NORTH HAVEN >> The ground game has been the bread and butter for the North Haven football team this season and on Thursday it worked to perfection against Amity.
Tom Gallagher had 13 carries for 105 yards and two touchdowns, Mike Montaro had 12 carries for 102 yards and two touchdowns and Cole Pecora had 14 carries for 101 yards and one touchdown to lead North Haven to a 40-20 SCC interdivision win over Amity at Vanacore Field.
North Haven (9-2) clinched a berth in the CIAC Class L playoffs that begins next week. The Indians qualify for the playoffs for the fifth time in the last eight seasons. The Spartans end their season at 3-8.
“Amity is a (Class LL) team and they are always formidable,” North Haven coach Anthony Sagnella said. “Our kids just got after it on both sides of the ball today. We’re fortunate to have athletic players in our backfield and they are fantastic when it comes to our ground game.
“It feels great to get back to the playoffs. I’m very happy for our group of seniors. We lost a lot of seniors from last year to graduation and we’re not as experienced. But this group did a great job of working hard, improving and getting prepared.”
On their second possession of the game, the Indians used 13 running plays to earn the game’s first touchdown. Nick Ponzio capped the drive with a 2-yard run up the middle to give North Haven a 6-0 lead with 5:13 to go in the first quarter.
Two possessions later, thanks to a short Amity punt that gave the Indians the ball on the Amity 39, Pecora padded the North Haven lead. Pecora’s 1-yard run up the middle made it 12-0 with 9:58 to go in the second quarter. The 2-point pass try failed.
Amity cut the lead in half connecting on one of the few completed passes in the half. Quarterback Mike DeVito connected with Kevin Nusdeo on a 21-yard touchdown pass in the far right corner of the end zone. Nusdeo leaped to make an acrobatic catch to cut North Haven’s lead to 12-6 with 6:36 to go in the second quarter.
The Indians responded on their next possession as Gallagher bolted up the middle for a 2-yard touchdown run to make it 18-6 with 1:27 to go in the half. The score capped a 13-play drive. Sabrina Fronte kicked the extra point to give North Haven a 19-6 lead at halftime.
It was more of the same in the second half with Montaro scoring on runs of 13 and 4 yards and Gallagher on a 49-yard touchdown to give the Indians a 40-6 lead in the fourth quarter.
“Amity is a (Class) LL opponent and we knew we had to come in with our “A” game to get a win,” said Gallagher, who was named the North Haven offensive player of the game. “Today our offensive line did a great job because the big holes were there for all the backs.
“Our running style ended up being a positive thing for us. It was a little slippery out there, conditions that favored a run game more than the passing game. We’re thrilled to qualify for the playoffs.”
Amity’s Colin Beaulieu scored on a 22-yard touchdown run with 7:42 to go in the fourth quarter and teammate DeVito added a 7-yard touchdown with 46 seconds left in the game for the 40-20 final.
DeVito led the Spartans completing 10-of-19 passes for 144 yards.
Nusedo was named the Amity outstanding player in the game. Pecora was named the North Haven defensive player of the game.