NEW HAVEN >> New London coach Juan Roman wasn’t concerned with what one might call his team’s convincing win over host Wilbur Cross Friday.
Even thought the Whalers entered the non-conference contest unbeaten and ranked No. 10 in the Register Top 10 Poll, some might call the Whalers’ 52-6 thrashing over the Governors, members of the powerful SCC, a “statement victory.”
Roman, though, was just pleased by his team’s performance on both sides of the ball. New London (8-0) scored 52 unanswered points after Wilbur Cross scored on its first offensive possession.
“I don’t want to start talking about us making statements,” Roman said. “We have to play each game. But I know, obviously, the SCC has earned its reputation as being the finest league in the state. It’s not like someone anointed them that, they’ve done that. We just came down here, the bus ride, all those things are what impressed me. The guys got on the bus, we went for an hour, got down here and we were able to play a game and got it done.”
The Governors turned the ball over six times and were called for multiple penalties. Perhaps the biggest turnover came after Wilbur Cross forced New London to turn the ball over on downs. On the first play of the ensuing possession, the Governors threw an incomplete pass, but the officials ruled it a fumble. New London recovered and later tied the game when sophomore Jacob Commander scored on a 9-yard run.
“Horrific call by the officials,” Wilbur Cross coach John Acquavita said, “who we met with at the beginning of the game and they said ‘do you do anything?’ and we said ‘we do a shuffle on the jet, it’s an incomplete pass if it’s dropped’. Granted, it’s one call, but huge momentum swing change. They get the ball in the red zone and then the debacle just imploded.”
New London senior quarterback Melquann Gomez scored on a 1-yard run with 11:52 left in the second quarter to give the Whalers the lead for good. Gomez completed 11 of 18 passes for 170 yards and tossed touchdown passes to senior D. Major Roman (4 yards) and junior Elijah Parker (25 yards) in the second quarter and to junior Gio Lopez (33 yards) in the third quarter. Gomez said he was looking forward to playing a non-conference opponent like the Governors.
“This is a big statement,” Gomez said. “We had this team on our schedule, we didn’t really know what they were coming with. We knew they were bouncing back from a season like we already had, a 2-8 season, so we knew they were going to come out strong. They’re a tough inner-city team so we just had to let them know we’re a tough inner-city team too. We came out with a big win. That’s a big statement right there.”
Wilbur Cross junior Kwane Taylor recovered a fumble on the game’s opening possession and then he scored on a 13-yard pass from junior Terrell Watts to give the Governors (4-3) a 6-0 lead with 5:19 left in the first quarter. It was all New London after that.
“They (Cross) just came out with the energy,” Gomez said. “They just beat us to that, they came out with more energy than we had. We had to go back to fundamentals, we had to beat them fundamentally, and that’s what we executed across the board.”
Commander and senior William Clark added touchdown runs in the fourth quarter for the Whalers, out of the ECC. Senior Star Stokes made two interceptions and also recovered a fumble in the win. Junior Monty Johnson returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown, while Clark and senior Elijah Lawyea recovered fumbles.
Watts, who became the starting quarterback at Wilbur Cross in the summer after senior Zion Setal suffered a season-ending knee injury, completed 7 of 20 passes for 65 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
“Coach told us a lot of things about him (Watts) and we just came out and tried to execute,” Stokes said. “We came together as a team and we did what we had to do.”
New London 52, Wilbur Cross 6
(at New Haven)
New London 6 27 6 13 — 52
Wilbur Cross 6 0 0 0 — 6
W—Kwane Taylor 13 pass from Terrell Watts (pass failed)
n—Jacob Commander 9 run (kick failed)
n—Melquann Gomez 1 run (Xavier Alvarez kick)
n—D. Major Roman 4 pass from Melquann Gomez (kick failed)
n—Monty Johnson 52 int ret (Alvarez kick)
n—Elijah Parker 25 pass from Melquann Gomez (Alvarez kick)
n—Gio Lopez 33 pass from Melquann Gomez (kick failed)
n—Jacob Commander 7 run (Alvarez kick)
n—William Clark 4 run (no conversion attempted)
Team records: Wilbur Cross 4-3; New London 7-0