MIDDLETOWN >> It wasn’t until West Haven senior Anthony Godfrey knocked away Xavier quarterback Will Levis’ two-point conversion pass with 43 seconds left that the Blue Devils could celebrate winning this battle of Top 10 teams.
Sixth-ranked West Haven topped the Falcons, 27-18, in front of a huge crowd Friday night at Palmer Field.
Yes, this night belonged to West Haven. And it was a victory that was impressive in more ways than one.
West Haven senior quarterback Tim McCarthy completed 7 of 15 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns, senior Sheilan Velazquez returned a punt 60 yards — aided by a crushing block from Anthony Godfrey — for a touchdown that gave the Blue Devils the lead for good early in the first quarter. Godfrey finished with 108 yards on 20 carries.
But it was the Blue Devils’ beefy offensive line, anchored by two-way senior Byron Dickens, that shined early in the fourth quarter.
With West Haven clinging to a 21-12 lead after the Falcons had closed the gap on a 38-yard scoring toss from Levis to senior Joe Galatie, the Westies marched 65 yards on 14 rushing plays. Godfrey capped the winning drive with a two-yard scoring plunge on fourth down and West Haven led 27-12 with 3:40 left to play.
“We were able to run the ball and did a great job on offense,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said. “We just kept saying give Anthony the ball.”
After Xavier senior Glenn Cunningham caught a pass from Levis, leaped over a West Haven defender and scored a touchdown with just 43 seconds left, the Falcons had closed to within 27-18. Xavier needed a miracle, namely, the 2-point conversion and then a successful onside kick. But Godfrey knocked Levis’ pass away.
“A game this close comes down to the fine little things,” Boshea added. “We thought we were a good team coming in and I think we are. We know Xavier is. So it’s two good teams and somebody had to lose. I’m happy that it wasn’t West Haven. We’ve got some good players and they learned to work hard.”
Cunningham finished with 72 yards on 22 carries, while Levis was 17 of 35 passing for 244 yards and three touchdowns, and senior Owen Gonzalez caught seven passes for 96 yards for No. 8 Xavier (1-1).
“We had opportunities all over the place and we didn’t capitalize on them,” Xavier coach Sean Marinan said. “West Haven did a great job but you can’t give opportunities away against a really good team.”
After Xavier opened the scoring with an 11-yard TD toss from Levis to Galatie, the Westies (2-0) took the lead, 7-6, on Velazquez’s sensational 60-yard punt return.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” Velazquez said. “We had to fight back. I just got a good block and took it to the house. We know what kind of team we are. We always show we can come back and keep fighting to stay in the game.”
West Haven 27, Xavier 18
(at Palmer Field, Middletown)
West Haven 14 7 0 6 — 27
Xavier 6 0 0 12 — 18
X—Joe Galatie 11 pass from Will Levis (kick failed)
WH—Sheilan Velazquez 60 punt return (Jose Conde kick )
X—Anthony Godfrey 31 pass from Tim McCarthy (Jose Conde kick )
WH—Chris Chance 25 pass from Tim McCarthy (Kick failed)
X—Galatie 38 pass from Levis (pass failed)
WH—Anthony Godfrey 2 run (run failed)
X—Glenn Cunningham 9 pass from Levis (pass failed)
Team records: West Haven 2-0; Xavier 1-1