WINSTED — Waterbury Career Academy’s Jalen Gopie scored almost every time he touched the ball at Winsted’s Van Why Field Friday afternoon, leading the Spartans to a 62-21 wipeout over Gilbert/Northwestern in a delayed Thanksgiving rivalry game.
Gopie, a 6-foot-2 junior, ran for 341 yards on 13 carries and passed for another 49 yards, scoring five Spartan touchdowns in the game’s first quarter-and-a-half on sprints of 60; 15; 62; 54; and 11 yards.
In WCA’s 34-point second quarter, Gopie racked up 205 yards on a day when he was stopped just twice at the line of scrimmage.
“I’ve been lifting weights and working hard,” said the soft-spoken 197-pound star.
“His secret is he doesn’t know he’s a running back, he thinks he’s a linebacker,” WCA coach Pete Flammia said. “He runs really, really hard. He’s a hard worker who doesn’t let his success go to his head.”
Gopie started what seemed like a one-man rout on the game’s first play from scrimmage, loping through a big hole for 60 yards, then running in the two-point conversion.
Still, on a cold day made for fumbles, the Spartan defense proved almost as good.
Gilbert/Northwestern had the ball for just three plays before Giovanni Rodrigues recovered a Yellowjacket fumble on the WCA 49-yard line.
This time, G/N’s defense held fast in four downs, but so did the Spartans.
Taking over at the G/N 46-yard-line, WCA ran 10 plays before springing Gopie again for the final 15 yards with seven seconds left in the first quarter.
The second quarter was the killer for Gilbert/Northwestern, starting with an interception by Spartan Xavior Rivera. Gopie turned it into another score on a 62-yard run.
A G/N fumble turned Gopie loose for another 54-yard TD.
Four G/N plays later, Gopie took a direct snap in the Spartans’ wildcat formation, fooling everyone on the field with a 49-yard pass to tight end Darrell Coombs.
Gopie finished that job with an 11-yard scoring sprint.
The Spartan defense interrupted Gopie’s scoring streak with a 62-yard interception return by Langston Racine, bringing the score to 44-0 with 5:06 still to play in the first half.
Yellowjacket captain Zack Horvay-Mclellan stopped the bleeding with a 34-yard run and a final one-yard plunge putting G/N on the board, but Gopie ran for 28 yards, then 50 more yards for another touchdown.
G/N quarterback Chase Sanden connected with Seamus Megevna for a 38-yard touchdown just before the half.
At 50-13, everyone at Van Why Field was ready for a running clock through the second half — leaving Gopie just enugh time for a 45-yard scoring run in the third quarter and a touchdown by each side in the fourth.
“This is what we wanted to do in the first two years (of the three-year rivalry series),” said Flammia. “We got beat up in the first game and it was close in the second.”
“They came to play and we didn’t,” said Gilbert/Northwestern coach Scott Salius. “We’ve won two out of three (in this series). I hope they win the NVL next year. This is the team we want to play. We want to play good teams.”
WCA finished the season 5-5. G/N closed at 4-6.
Waterbury Career Academy 62, Gilbert/Northwestern 21
WATERBURY CAREER ACADEMY 16 34 6 6 — 62
GILBERT/NORTHWESTERN 0 13 0 8 — 21
WCA — Jalen Gopie 60-yard run (Gopie run)
WCA — Gopie 15-yard run (Gopie run)
WCA — Gopie 62-yard run (Jacob Torres run)
WCA — Gopie 54-yard run (Gopie run)
WCA — Gopie 11-yard run (run failed)
WCA — Langston Racine 62-yard interception return (run failed)
G/N — Zack Horvay-Mclellan 1-yard run (Josh Hamel kick)
WCA — Gopie 50-yard run (knee)
G/N — Seamus Megevna 38-yard pass from Chase Sanden (kick failed)
WCA — Gopie 45-yard run (run failed)
G/N — David Castillo 7-yard pass from Sanden (Clay Maloney run)
WCA — Giovanni Rodrigues 1-yard run (knee)
Rushing: WCA — Jalen Gopie 13 carries/341 yards; Jacob Torres 6/-34; Xavior Rivera 1/3; Langston Racine 1/-4. G/N — Chase Sanden 6/28; Marco Folino 7/0; Zack Jorvay Mclellan 7/56.
Passing: WCA — Jacob Torres 2 completions/6 attempts/13 yards; Jalen Gopie 1/1/49. G/N — Chase Sanden 4/7/82/interception; Anthony Carfiro 0/2/2 interceptions.
Receiving: WCA — Mark Cummings 1 reception/3 yards; Langston Racine 1/10; Darrell Coombs 1/49. G/N — Ryan Valko 1/62; Adam Abdou 2/13; David Castillo 1/7.
Records: Waterbury Career Academy 5-5; Gilbert/Northwestern 4-6.