NORTH HAVEN — Guilford had a 7-0 lead and was marching toward the end zone and an early two-touchdown lead over 10th-ranked North Haven.
But North Haven was able to stop their Southern Connecticut Conference brethren and that turned the momentum completely around as the host Indians posted a 47-20 victory Friday night at Vanacore Field.
Guilford (3-4) took the opening kickoff and drove 68 yards with Joe Nault hitting Tony Pensa for a 25-yard touchdown pass just 4 minutes into the game. And just 4 minutes later, Guilford (3-4) could have gone up 14-0, but North Haven’s defense settled down at its own 11 and halted the drive.
“It would have been a huge task to be down 14-0,” North Haven Anthony Sagnella said after his team improved to 6-1. “They run a disciplined offense and it’s difficult to catch up to it. Our kids did a great job of that.”
Guilford coach Tom Unger felt it was the turning point of the game.
“That was big,” Unger said. “When you have opportunities against a team like North Haven, you have to cash in. We had them reeling, but we have to sustain it.”
At that point, North Haven scored the next 26 points to take control of the game. First, quarterback Mike Halloran scored from 19 yards out to close it to 7-6.
Then it became the Ethan Suraci show. The senior running back just bulled his way up the middle, rushing for touchdowns of 2, 33 and 39 yards as North Haven broke things open early in the third quarter.
“All the touchdowns I scored were because of the linemen,” Suraci said. “That’s their intensity and desire. I love running behind them. It’s a win-win for us.”
Guilford interrupted Suraci’s night for a moment when Nault hit Nash Singleton for a 34-yard pass with 7:01 to play in the third quarter to but North Haven’s lead to 26-14. However, Suraci (15 carries for 205 yards) scooted into the end zone for his fourth touchdown of the night from 37 yards out six plays later to make it 32-14. Suraci then tacked on the 2-point conversion.
“It’s too bad he (Suraci) is a little banged up,” Sagnella said. “We had to play him on one side of the ball tonight. We thought we could play him on defense, but he didn’t feel comfortable moving around on defense.”
Nault, who rushed for 123 yards in 10 carries, threw his third touchdown pass of the night in the fourth quarter, a 5-yarder to Eric Zergiebel that was tipped right into his hands. It was pretty much the only offense Guilford had in the final quarter.
“They morphed their defense to take away some things we did and found a way to play the quarterback better,” Unger said.
North Haven added a 40-yard touchdown pass from Mike Halloran (who also had 90 yard rushing) to Jeremy Imperati. Tom Gallagher closed out the scoring with an 11-yard run.
“We watched them (Guilford) all week on film and they come with a lot of intensity,” Suraci said. “We just didn’t play the way we can in the first quarter, but we came back and took care of business.”