MADISON – It’s been 15 years since North Haven had beaten Hand in Madison. There were a couple playoff losses in between, but many of those were lean years.
The Indians made up for a lot of those trips to Madison Friday night, totally outplaying Hand, en route to a 33-7 Southern Connecticut Conference Tier 1 victory at the Surf Club.
“It wasn’t something we thought about,” North Haven coach Tony Sagnella said. “Every season is different, but we’re just trying to get better every week.”
North Haven (3-1) showed that its running game would dominate the game right from the beginning of the game.
On the fourth play from scrimmage, Max Sullivan (11 carries for 132 yards) erupted through the line and into wide open daylight to give North Haven a quick 7-0 lead.
“They definitely know we like to set the edge on our outside runs,” Sullivan said. “We did the best we could to pound out the middle and our blockers did a great job to open up holes for me and my teammates.”
Midway through the quarter, Thomas Dodge (13 carries for 130 yards) also broke up the middle for a touchdown, zipping 29 yards to make it 14-0.
“Just from what it looked like and sounded like, we were getting off at the line of scrimmage,” Sagnella said. “Our offensive line was very inexperienced coming into the season, and now four weeks in, they are coming together.”
A 26-yard field goal by Colin Finkle made 17-0 at halftime.
The Indians continued to pour it on in the third quarter. On their first possession of the second half, Sullivan raced 45 yards to move the ball to the Hand 5-yard line. Sullivan then bolted into the end zone on the next play to make it 23-0. Another Finkle field goal, this time from 28 yards out pushed the Indians’ lead to 26-0 after three quarters.
Dodge tacked on his second touchdown run of the night, this time from 54 yards out with 10:20 remaining in the game to make it 33-0.
Hand (1-3) followed that with its only score of the night. Brett Bilcheck returned the ensuing kickoff down the right side of the field for a 75-yard return for a touchdown.
North Haven held Hand to 181 yards of offense (107 rushing and 74 passing) with half of them coming in the fourth quarter when the game was long decided.
“When you play against them, you better be able to match their physicality,” Hand football coach Steve Filippone said. “If you’re not able to, you‘re going to get your (butt) kicked and that’s what happened. In every sense of the word, they were a better football team.”
And turnovers killed Hand every time they started to mount some sort of an offensive drive.
“We had three interceptions and a fumble and you can’t have four turnovers against them,” Filippone said. “We have a young kid at quarterback (sophomore Joe Ciotti) and we’ve only had one other sophomore (Nick van Dell) at quarterback. We have to give him some time, but we’re making an investment for the future.”
North Haven 33, Hand 7
North Haven 14 3 9 7 0 — 33
Hand 0 0 0 7 0 — 7
N—Max Sullivan 48 run (Colin Finkle kick)
N—Tom Dodge 29 run (Colin Finkle kick)
N—Colin Finkle 26 FG
N—Max Sullivan 5 run (kick failed)
N—Colin Finkle 28 FG
N—Tom Dodge 54 run (Colin Finkle kick)
H—Brett Bilcheck 75 kickoff ret (Chris Bartosic kick)
Team records: Hand 1-3; North Haven 3-1