NEW HAVEN >> Looking to gain some consistency as the season gets into high gear, Wilbur Cross coach John Acquavita stressed a solid start to its game against Creed/Career/Whitney Tech.
Acquavita got that and more as sophomore Jasiah Barnes ran for three touchdowns in the opening half and four overall as Cross defeated the Howling Wolves 36-14 in a Southern Connecticut Conference interdivision contest at Bowen Field in New Haven Friday evening.
“I have to give it to my offensive line,” Barnes said after rushing for 90 yards in the game. “They worked really hard and opened some holes for me. They played their butts off. That first half was big.”
The Governors did not waste any time setting the tone, holding a 203-54 yard advantage in the opening half. The defense of the Governors overpowered the Howling Wolves in the opening half as Creed/Career/Whitney was held to minus-19 yards on two possessions prior to the half.
“Our defense has been a very pleasant surprise,” Acquavita said of his team’s defense after Cross improved to 4-1 on the season. “We struggled last year, but I think we have played well so far. We made some plays tonight.”
With the way the contest started, Creed/Career/Whitney looked as if it would give the Governors a battle, holding Cross on its first possession and following with a touchdown to take a 6-0 lead with 7 minutes, 39 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
The Howling Wolves capped a six play, 69-yard drive with a 28-yard pass play from Wyatt Jackson to Kareem Dixon. The extra point was blocked, starting a pattern of five missed conversions by both teams in the opening half.
“We are making some mistakes,” Creed/Career/Whitney coach Brandon McCormick said after his team fell to 1-5 with its fourth straight loss. “We are a young team. We started three sophomores on the offensive line with a junior, and also a freshman at tight end. We are going through some growing pains. We will get there.”
The rest of the opening half belonged to Barnes and the Governors as the sophomore scored on runs of 25, 2, and 3 yards for an 18-6 Cross lead. When Terell Watts hit William Massey Simmons with a 20-yard scoring strike with 2:10 left in the first half, Cross was in control 24-6.
Barnes’ first score of the game may have been the most important for the Governors as the 25-yard score came just 1:33 after the Creed touchdown to even the game at 6 with six minutes left in the opening quarter.
Wilbur Cross then used its special teams to turn the tide of the game as a fumbled punt by Creed/Career/Whitney was recovered by Davontay Edwards at the Howling Wolves’ 17. Just four plays later, Barnes was in from two yards out for a 12-6 lead with 1:32 gone by in the second quarter.
Following another Creed/Career/Whitney punt, the Governors needed just seven plays to march 27 yards, capped by a Barnes touchdown run of three yards.
Cross capped the scoring in the opening half in the air. A laser over the middle by Watts to Simmons was hauled in for a 20-yard score for a 24-6 Cross lead.
The Howling Wolves took advantage of a failed punt by the Governors to start the second half, recovering at the Cross 33. Six plays later, Jhavion Haddock scored from 17 yards out and Dixon ran in the conversion to get the Howling Wolves within 24-14 with 4:51 left in the third quarter.
“We got to 24-14, but we couldn’t get closer,” McCormick said. “We were excited, but a couple of plays did not go our way. We had some problems on special teams.”
Cross answered with 1:12 left in the quarter as Watts lofted a short pass to Jaykeen Foreman, who made an outstanding catch over a defender for a 30-14 advantage.
Wilbur Cross 36, Creed 14
Creed 6 0 8 0 0 — 14
Wilbur Cross 6 18 6 6 0 — 36
C—Kareem Dixon 28 pass from Wyatt Jackson (Kick blocked)
W—Jasiah Barnes 25 run (Run failed)
W—Jasiah Barnes 2 run (Pass failed)
W—Jasiah Barnes 3 run (Pass failed)
W—Will Simmons 20 pass from Terrell Watts (Pass failed)
C—Jhavion Haddock 17 run (Kareem Dixon run)
W—Jaykeen Foreman 20 pass from Terrell Watts (Pass failed)
W—Jasiah Barnes 4 run (Pass failed)
Team records: Wilbur Cross 4-1; Creed 1-5