BRANFORD — In the first week of the 2013 season, Notre Dame-West Haven was beaten badly by sixth-ranked St. Joseph-Trumbull, 47-28, as part of the FCIAC-SCC Challenge.
It didn’t sit very well with Notre Dame coach Tom Marcucci.
“We needed to improve — no question about it,” Marcucci said after the Green Knights dominated Branford, 48-7, Friday night at the James MacVeigh Alumni Athletic Complex. “Branford is undermanned and we came out and did what we had to do. I’m happy with the way we played and that a lot of guys got to play.”
The Hornets couldn’t handle the bigger and faster Notre Dame backfield, especially Cam Tucker (12 carries for 81 yards), who scored a pair of first-quarter 1-yard touchdowns to give the Green Knights a quick 14-0 lead with 51 seconds remaining in the quarter.
“He’s big, physical and makes great cuts,” Branford coach John Limone said. “They don’t try and trick you. They hand it off to him and let him go. We also didn’t tackle well.”
For all intents and purposes, Branford’s chances ended midway through the first quarter when quarterback Devan Hall was knocked out of the game with a shoulder injury after he was hit out of bounds in front of the Notre Dame bench while scrambling.
At that point, the Hornets were forced to use a pair of sophomore quarterbacks, Noah DeGoursey and Luke DiStasio, who hadn’t played a single varsity down before.
“You lose your quarterback and your leader in the first quarter and it is demoralizing,” Limone said. “But as we get better and more experienced, they have to learn how to deal with that. He’s one of the best players we have but you have to move on. We now have to see what the injury report is and may have a decision to make next week.”
Turnovers also didn’t help Branford.
DeGoursey was intercepted twice, including one after Tucker’s second touchdown, that led to a quick Blake Rice to Drew Arciuolo 22-yard touchdown pass that made it 20-0.
Notre Dame tacked on two more scores before halftime when backup quarterback Christian Lupoli connected with Joseph Palmieri for a 17-yard scoring pass and then Rice hit Arciuolo with a 36-yard touchdown pass with just 2:43 remaining in the half to make it 34-0.
“Christian is right there with Rice,” Marcucci said. “He can run the option and throw the ball. We need to have both with our schedule with injuries.”
Notre Dame tacked on two more touchdowns, both coming in the third quarter, to take a 48-0 lead. Defensive lineman Matt Abati recovered a fumble on a bad snap and returned it 40 yards for a score and Prince Brooks scampered for 62 yards for a touchdown.
“We made some silly Day 1 mistakes,” Limone said. “I don’t want to hide behind our inexperience, but I expected to compete tonight and we didn’t.”
Branford broke up the shutout on Dominic Acquarulo’s 5-yard run with 2:28 to go in the third quarter.