NEW HAVEN >> During the game’s opening possession, the Hyde defense committed two penalties and allowed Lewis Mills to drive 70 yards on seven plays that was capped by a touchdown pass.
Fortunately for the Howling Wolves, that’s the only time the Spartans led. Hyde settled in and, fueled by a six touchdown performance from senior Ronnie Freeman, rolled to a 54-22 Pequot Conference interdivision victory in the season opener for both teams Saturday at the Wilbur Cross Athletic Complex.
Two offside penalties by the Howling Wolves gave Lewis Mills 10 yards before Lucas Lanning connected with Casey Ciamniewski on a 19-yard touchdown pass to give the Spartans a 6-0 lead.
Hyde, though, responded. Freeman scored on a 34-yard touchdown run to tie the game, and then after forcing Lewis Mills to punt, Freeman caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Dwayne Hunter-Parker to give the Howling Wolves the lead for good.
“I think we realized that we have to take things seriously from the moment we walk onto the field to the moment we exit the field,” Hyde coach Melvin Wells said. “We have a number of guys who really haven’t had a lot of experience playing prior to today. They’re good athletes, but until you get that real taste of somebody kind of punching you in the face a little bit, you don’t get it.
“I thought we responded tremendously well once we did score and we decided that we were going to be a hard, well-run outfit. When we did that, we played really well. Once we settled in and started playing football the way we know how to play football, we did some really good things.”
Three Lewis Mills turnovers later in the first quarter turned into Hyde touchdowns, including a 35-yard interception return by Hunter-Parker. Jhavion Haddock scored on a 37-yard run and Freeman had a 20-yard touchdown run on consecutive Hyde possessions after Lewis Mills turned the ball over on fumbles. Freeman then added a 54-yard run to give Hyde a 41-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Freeman scored on runs of 20 and 5 yards in the third quarter. His five rushing touchdowns were a career high.
“We just wanted to work hard and dig deep, and realize we were the better team,” Freeman said about Hyde’s slow start. “I just have to thank the whole line, they just made a bunch of blocks. We work very hard on that. I just appreciate that, all the hard work and effort they put into today’s game.”
The opening drive was one of the few bright spots for the Spartans.
“We can’t sustain a full game,” Lewis Mills coach Jose Santana said. “We’ll see what the rest of the season holds. We have a tough schedule.”
Lanning found Matt Rinkus on a 33-yard touchdown pass and Collin Kennedy scored on a 2-yard run in the fourth quarter against Hyde’s second-string defense. Ciamniewski caught six passes for 120 yards.
L—Casey Ciamniewski 19 pass from Lucas Lanning (kick blocked)
H—Ronnie Freeman 34 run (kick failed)
H—Ronnie Freeman 15 pass from Dwayne Hunter-Parker (Jhavion Haddock run)
H—Dwayne Hunter-Parker 35 int ret (Aaron Wright kick)
H—Jhavion Haddock 37 run (kick failed)
H—Ronnie Freeman 20 run (Wright kick)
H—Ronnie Freeman 54 run (Wright kick)
H—Ronnie Freeman 20 run (kick failed)
H—Ronnie Freeman 5 run (Wright kick)
L—Matt Rinkus 33 pass from Lucas Lanning (Lanning to Rinkus pass)
L—Collin Kennedy 2 run (Lanning run)
Team records: Hyde 1-0; Lewis Mills 0-1