WEST HAVEN >> Ervin Philips knew the importance of holding the trophy at the end of the game in the battle of West Haven Friday evening.
Philips and his teammates did something about it.In the first Soderman Bowl between West Haven and cross-town rival Notre Dame, Philips and backfield mate Marshont Little combined to rush for 319 yards and scored five touchdowns as the Westies defeated the Green Knights 38-29 in a Southern Connecticut Conference Division I East contest in front of a packed house at Ken Strong Stadium.
Named after William Soderman, who received a Medal of Honor for his service in Belgium in 1944, and to raise awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project, the meaning of the Soderman Bowl was not lost on the players.
“This game was really big,” Philips said after rushing for 179 yards and scoring two TDs, one on the ground and one through the air. “We knew what we were playing for. I had to get my hands on that trophy.
“We are starting to build some team chemistry. We just needed to keep running and do what we do. Our defense stepped up too.”
The victory allowed West Haven coach Ed McCarthy to pick up his 320th career win and move within one victory of tying the state record held by former Ledyard coach Bill Mignault. McCarthy can tie the record of 321 Friday when the Westies host Xavier.
“We have some playmakers,” McCarthy said after his team gained 418 yards and improved to 4-1. “We have some guys that can run.
“Erv and Marshont really did some good things tonight. They keyed on (quarterback) Duane (Gary) and we were able to do what we like to do.”
After Notre Dame’s Cam Tucker scored from 5 yards out with 5 minutes, 18 seconds left in the opening quarter for a 7-0 lead, the Westies scored twice, added a pair of two-point conversions and never looked back in the second quarter.
Gary scrambled and hit Philips for a 7-yard score on fourth down, then ran in the conversion for an 8-7 lead 59 seconds into the second quarter.
On West Haven’s next possession, Little scored the first of his three straight touchdowns and Gary hit John Brolet with the conversion for a 16-8 lead with 6:59 left in the half.
“This was a really big game,” Little said after rushing for 140 yards and three touchdowns. “We needed that trophy. The line blocked for us and we just made some plays.”
The Westies kept it on the ground in the third quarter and took a 30-7 lead. Little had both touchdowns, the first a hard-fought run up the middle for 11 yards and the second a 72-yard dash after bouncing off a host of Green Knight tackles.
“They went back to the same stuff they do,” Notre Dame coach Tom Marcucci said after his team fell to 1-4. “They have great players who make great plays. I am proud of my guys. They played hard to the end and represented the Notre Dame program well. The young guys played hard. They just had too many big plays.”
Notre Dame cut into the deficit in the third quarter when Christian Lupoli hit Drew Arciuolo for a 23-yard score.
Leading 30-15, the Westies responded and put the game away when Philips raced in from 33 yards out with 6:35 left in the fourth.
Tucker added a 1-yard score and Lupoli hit Arciuolo from 19 yards out with 24 seconds to go to make the score closer than the game.Tucker finished with 62 yards on 20 carries while Lupoli was 8 of 12 for 86 yards for the Green Knights.
Notre Dame-West Haven 29
(at West Haven)
Notre Dame 7 0 8 14 0 — 29
West Haven 0 16 14 8 0 — 38
N—Cam Tucker 5 run (Christopher Stanio Kick)
W—Ervin Philips 7 pass from Duane Gary (Gary Run)
W—Marshont Little 4 run (Gary to John Brolet Pass)
W—Marshont Little 11 run (Run Failed)
W—Marshont Little 72 run (Gary to Philips Pass)
N—Drew Arciuolo 23 pass from Christian Lupoli (Zach Cofrancesco to Kam Matthews Pass)
W—Ervin Philips 33 run (Gary to Zatrell Lyons Pass)
N—Cam Tucker 1 run (Kick Failed)
N—Drew Arciuolo 19 pass from Christian Lupoli (Lupoli to Matthews Pass)