EAST HAVEN >> Hyde/Career/Whitney Tech needed plenty of help today to even have a chance of making the Class M state playoffs.
The co-op team also needed a victory Wednesday night. But North Branford wasn’t about to provide the Howling Wolves with any hope of making the postseason.
North Branford turned the final Harvest Bowl into a one-sided affair, 53-6 at Crisafi Field. The Thunderbirds never punted.
“We were a better team than what our record reflected,” North Branford coach Mark Basil said. “It was one of those things; we kept stumbling all year. Tonight, they looked relaxed and more confident. A lot of these kids were a part of the 2012 team (that lost in the Class S state final to Ansonia) and last year’s team (that lost in the S final to Capital Prep). They are good kids and I’m happy with the way they finished their careers.”
It’s the last Harvest Bowl because this was the last game for Hyde (6-4) as a member of the Pequot Conference. The program will join the SCC next fall. The Harvest Bowl series will end tied at eight games apiece and both teams will be looking for Thanksgiving opponents for next season.
“Early discussions are Coginchaug. Makes for a natural rivalry,” Basil said of a potential opponent. “Been here 14 years and this was the Thanksgiving game for all 14 years.”
After Hyde’s Neal Eley took the opening play from scrimmage 65 yards for a touchdown, North Branford (6-4) scored 53 unanswered points. Quarterback Paul Pastet threw just one pass in the second half, but it was shovel pass to Shelby Franklin that went for a 75-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-30.
Pastet finished the game 17 of 19 for 325 yards and five touchdowns and ran for another in his final game.
“It’s like my brothers. I played with them my whole life. … I could breathe, not have to worry about pressure, not have to worry about getting hit from behind. I could stand in the pocket and do what I do best,” Pastet said. “I’m not going to college. I’m going into the plumbers union to become a plumber.”
North Branford answered Hyde’s only touchdown with a 12-play, 80-yard drive capped by Pastet’s shovel pass to Ryan Reilly for a 1-yard score.
Pastet scored from 1 yard out on the opening play of the second quarter to put the Thunderbirds up 13-6. On North Branford’s next possession, Pastet needed just one play to put the Thunderbirds up by two scores — a middle screen pass to Reilly for 79 yards.
The Thunderbirds scored on every possession of the first half. Pastet connected with Matt Chamberlain for a 17-yard score and Frank Laudano for 23 yards, the latter coming with 36 seconds left before halftime to put North Branford up 34-6.
Hyde crossed midfield for the first time on its final possession of the first half, getting to North Branford’s 21 before two incompletions ended the half.
Pastet completed 16 of 17 for 250 yards and four touchdowns before halftime.
Franklin scored on runs of 60 and 38 yards in the third quarter before North Branford’s reserves took over in the fourth.
North Branford 53, Hyde 6
(at East Haven)
North Branford 7 27 19 0 — 53
Hyde 6 0 0 0 — 6
H—Neal Ely 65 run (kick failed)
N—Ryan Reilly 1 pass from Paul Pastet (Antonio Sarmento kick)
N—Paul Pastet 1 run (run failed)
N—Ryan Reilly 79 pass from Paul Pastet (Sarmento kick)
N—Matt Chamberlain 25 pass from Paul Pastet (Sarmento kick)
N—Frank Laudano 23 pass from Paul Pastet (Sarmento kick)
N—Shelby Franklin 75 pass from Paul Pastet (kick failed)
N—Shelby Franklin 60 run (Sarmento kick)
N—Shelby Franklin 38 run (kick failed)
Team records: Hyde 6-4; North Branford 6-4