By Steve Kirck
MILFORD >> The Law head coaching debut of Derrick Lewis was spoiled by a familiar foe and a freshman quarterback from Harding.
Lewis, who beat Harding while coaching at Bassick, watched Taisun Phommachanh complete 17 of 27 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns as the Presidents scored 38 unanswered points in an eventual 38-10 win over Law in the season opener for both teams.
Lewis, a former standout player at both West Haven and Southern Connecticut State University, coached for three years at Bassick before coming to Law in March.
“We shot ourselves in the foot and the leg tonight too many times to beat a team like Harding,” Lewis said. “We counted 13 botched snaps, didn’t convert in the red zone, and had some miscommunication in defensive coverages. You can’t compete when you make as many mistakes as we did.”
Harding beat Law for the second straight season. The Presidents won 32-14 in 2013 in this SCC-FCIAC Challenge.
Law struck first late in the first quarter when Mick Murray connected on a 22-yard field goal to give the Lawmen a 3-0 lead.
Law had a chance to increase its lead but Tim Edson was intercepted deep in Harding territory on its next possession.
From there, Harding exerted its dominance on both sides of the ball. Dequan Woods (nine carries, 59 yards, two touchdowns) gave Harding a lead it never relinquished on a 1-yard plunge with 10:37 left in the second quarter.
Phommachanh connected on a 68-yard scoring strike to Tyshawn Walker with just 49 seconds left in the half, and after a pair of 2-point conversions, Harding led 16-3 at intermission. Walker had seven catches for 145 yards on the night.
Harding, which gained over 400 yards of total offense and 17 first downs, continued to use its speed on offense and defensive pressure to extend its lead. Woods second scoring run gave the Presidents a 24-3 lead before a pair of fourth quarter scores put the game away. Phommachanh and Jahzaari Mullings connected on a 14-yard touchdown pass and Christian Hopkins sprinted 69 yards to round out the scoring for Harding.
“We executed on offense, brought some timely blitzes on defense and held it in the red zone tonight and then let Phommachanh perform,” Harding coach Eddie Santiago said.
“Taisun played great. When he plays like that, we can be a high-powered offense,” added Rivera. “I thought we had a speed advantage and our conditioning were big factors for us tonight.”
Law’s lone touchdown came with 1:55 left in the game when Max German scored from two yards out.