NORTH HAVEN >> Ethan Suraci and his fellow seniors made sure the Southern Connecticut Conference Division II East title stayed in North Haven.
In a contest between contrasting styles, North Haven’s methodical running game prevailed over Foran’s flashy offensive attack with Suraci leading the way on the ground. Suraci scored four times as North Haven pounded out a 28-14 victory Friday at Vanacore Field.
It was the fifth straight division title for the Indians (8-1), ranked ninth in the Register Top 10 Poll.
“If you saw the game tonight, it was a dog fight,” Suraci said. “I’m not only going to give credit to our program, I want to give credit to the whole SCC Division II East; every single game we played in this division, it was so hard, as you saw tonight.
“We work so hard every day. Coach (Anthony) Sagnella has us come in (for) 6 a.m. workouts and everyone is 100 percent all the time. I think that was a huge factor tonight.”
The teams went into halftime tied at 14. North Haven took the lead for good when Suraci scored on a 5-yard run with 5:18 left in the third quarter. Suraci then scored on a 4-yard run with 9:51 remaining in the game.
Foran (6-3) did not score in the second half. The Lions completed just three passes for 14 yards and ran for negative yardage after halftime.
“Their offense is tremendous,” Sagnella said. “It’s very difficult to defend. It stresses you spatially all over the field on every down. I’m just happy that we made plays, and we tackled, and we buckled down in the second half.”
Foran drove 75 yards on just four plays and scored on the game’s opening drive when Jake Kasuba connected with Connor Cadrin on a 5-yard touchdown pass to give the Lions a 7-0 lead. The play was set up by a 51-yard pass from Kasuba to Nick Weissauer.
With 1:26 left in the first quarter, Suraci scored on a 3-yard run, but the extra point was no good and North Haven trailed 7-6.
The teams traded touchdowns in the second quarter with Suraci scoring on a 1-yard run and Cadrin hitting Weissauer on a halfback option pass for a 23-yard touchdown.
In a game between teams of nearly equal talented, the margin of error is very slim. North Haven forced three turnovers and chewed up much of the clock on lengthy drives, keeping the potent Lions offense off the field for much of the contest. Pat Mikos made an interception and Cole Pecora recovered a fumble for the Indians.
“We have to make plays,” Foran coach Jeff Bevino said. “We whacked with them, we did everything we needed to do, but they made big plays and we didn’t.”
Kasuba finished completing 11 of 18 passes for 138 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The Foran offense, aside from the opening drive, seemed out of sync all evening, mainly because of North Haven’s ability to control the clock with its running game.
“You can’t develop a rhythm,” Bevino said, “and they’re tremendous defensively; they’re fast, they fly to the ball. We just really couldn’t establish our game because we didn’t have the ball enough to actually see it. Hats off to them for controlling the line of scrimmage.”
North Haven completed just two passes, but a 45-yard pass on a halfback option from Mike Montano to Jeremy Imperati set up the Indians’ third touchdown. Pecora carried 11 times for 75 yards, while Montano gained 82 yards on 13 carries. Suraci finished with 61 yards on 20 carries.
“(Suraci’s) a tremendous kid, but he prepared himself for this,” Sagnella said. “He worked his tail off. He’s a bright kid, he loves football, he’s coachable. He’s been nagged with injury; he’ll never complain. It’s great to see him give us what we need when we need it.”
North Haven 28, Foran 14
(at North Haven)
Foran 7 7 0 0 — 14
North Haven 6 8 7 7 — 28
F—Connor Cadrin 5 pass from Jake Kasuba (Sam Olsson kick)
N—Ethan Suraci 3 run (kick failed)
N—Ethan Suraci 1 run (Cole Pecora run)
F—Nick Weissauer 23 pass from Cadrin (Olsson kick)
N—Ethan Suraci 5 run (Sabrina Fronte kick)
N—Ethan Suraci 4 run (Fronte kick)
Team records: North Haven 8-1; Foran 6-3