BRIDGEPORT — It was not a day for defense Saturday at Kennedy Stadium. In fact, North Haven had such problems containing Harding that head coach Anthony Sagnella decided to try a rather unusual approach on defense:
“We were playing defense . . . with our offense,” Sagnella said. “That’s not good.”
Actually, with the Indians’ ground-and-pound rushing attack, it worked fairly well in keeping the Harding offense off the field. But to be fair, North Haven’s defensive unit was only the second most ineffective group on the field Saturday as Harding fell, 54-35 in the non-league contest.
This game loomed as a possible mismatch after North Haven gave powerful West Haven all it could handle the previous week in losing 33-27. And after a 27-0 second quarter barrage, it appeared a rout was in the offing at halftime as NH led 41-13.
But Harding had too much heart and too much offensive firepower, led by Coleman Adams, for this to get ugly.
“I’m proud of how we came back,” Harding coach Eddie Santiago said. “This is a good group of seniors; it’s not the Harding of the past (before last year’s Class M state playoff team). And Adams is an explosive player, a very talented individual.”
Adams finished with 258 total yards on 19 touches. He ran for one score and caught a pair of touchdown passes from quarterback Kevin Bednarz. He also had an interception on defense but, let’s face it, this game was all about the “O.”
“We knew it was going to be high-scoring so we had to strike early and often,” Santiago said. The Presidents (0-2) scored two first-quarter touchdowns and trailed 14-13 before North Haven’s second-quarter blitz began. “We just had one bad quarter.”
In terms of rushing the ball, North Haven (1-1) had no bad quarters, finishing with 355 yards on 55 attempts. Zachery Orth ran for three scores while Devan Brockhamer had two. The Indians’ other scores came on runs by Mark Montano and Alex Ciaburro, and a 47-yard TD pass from Shamus Meehan to Korbin Pecora.
Nevertheless, the victory didn’t exactly sit well with the NH coach.
“We played very hard last week but I’m not sure about that this week,” Sagnella said. “Harding had every reason to stop playing (at 41-13) but didn’t. Our team can learn from that.”
Besides Adams, who caught TD passes of 29 and 83 yards from Bednarz and ran in from 54 yards, the Presidents also scored on Bednarz’ 12-yard run and one-yard dive by tackle-eligible Leon Hanley.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
It was in a losing effort, but Harding’s Coleman Adams rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries while catching four passes for 135 yards and two scores. He also had an interception on defense.
“We’ve got to clean up a few things on our end; way too many penalties,” — Harding coach Eddie Santiago, referring to his team’s 14 penalties for 145 yards.
DOING WHAT YOU DO BEST
North Haven loves to run the ball with a fleet of good running backs and a solid offensive line. On Saturday, it rushed the ball 55 times (out of 61 plays from scrimmage) and gained 355 yards.
NORTH HAVEN 54, HARDING 35
NORTH HAVEN 14 27 14 0—54
HARDING 13 0 14 8— 35
NH — Devan Brockhamer, 20 run (Chase DeCarlo kick)
H — Kevin Bednarz, 12 run (kick successful)
NH — Brockhamer, 19 run (DeCarlo kick)
H — Coleman Adams, 29 pass from Bednarz (kick failed)
NH — Mark Montano, 1 run (DeCarlo kick)
NH — Korbin Pecora, 47 pass from Shamus Meehan (kick failed)
NH — Zachery Orth, 6 run (DeCarlo kick)
NH — Orth, 1 run (DeCarlo kick)
H — Adams, 54 run (Adams pass from Bednarz)
NH — Orth, 9 run (kick failed)
NH — Alex Ciaburro, 9 run (DeCarlo kick)
H — Adams, 83 pass from Bednarz (pass failed)
H — Leon Hanley, 1 run (Bednarz run)
Records: NH 1-1, H 0-2