HAMDEN >> There were a few reasons for Hamden to get off to a good start against Danbury in its opening game of the season.
First, the Green Dragons wanted to get a win for Todd Dowty, who took over as head coach a month ago. Second, they want to have a chance to get to the CIAC Class LL playoffs. Lastly, Hamden wanted to avenge a brutal loss to Danbury a year ago because of a botched punt.
Thanks to a tremendous performance by running back Maliek Williamson, Hamden got off to that good start with a 26-10 victory over Danbury in a game that was suspended Thursday night because of thunderstorms and was completed Friday afternoon as part of the FCIAC-SCC Challenge.
“It’s a tremendous win for the kids and the program,” Dowty said afterwards. “As you know, we haven’t seen that many wins recently. The kids can start to see we have a program in place and if they perform, we do well.”
On Thursday night, Hamden had put together a 14-play, 56-yard scoring drive that covered seven minutes of the first quarter to take a 6-0 lead when quarterback Bill Varney hit Williamson on a 12-yard screen pass. But the game was halted with 1:23 remaining in the quarter when lightning forced play be stopped. Soon after, lights on the field went out due to a power outage, forcing the suspension of the game until Friday.
After the game resumed Danbury was able to take its only lead as Eric Henry picked off a Varney pass near midfield and brought it back to the Hamden 33. Six plays later, Hatter quarterback Anferny Ith hooked up with Elijah Hill for a 14-yard touchdown pass to deadlock things at 6-6. Michael Schneider tacked on the extra point to make it 7-6. After that, Hamden controlled Danbury’s throwing game by bringing another safety over the top and forced the Hatters to run the football.
“We didn’t take what they gave us,” said Danbury assistant coach Chris Davidson, who ran the team in the absence of head coach Dan Donovan. “With a 4-1 box, we needed to run the ball, but we gave it away and too many three-and-outs didn’t help.”
From that point on, Williamson took control. The 6-foot, 185-pound junior dominated the rest of the game, rushing for 203 yards on 22 carries and added a pair of touchdown runs. A good portion of his yardage came with a host of Danbury defenders on his back.
“Keep moving forward is my motto,” said Williamson, who left the game late in the fourth quarter with a hip pointer. “The offensive line opened up some great holes for me to run.”
Williamson scored from 27 yards out with 56 seconds left in the second quarter to make it a 13-7 game. Schneider’s 43-yard field goal on the final play of the half cut Danbury’s deficit in half to 13-10 at the break.
A nifty cutback across the field by Williamson for a 40-yard score with 1:09 left in the third quarter pushed the Hamden lead to 19-7.
“He’s a power runner and he ran it hard today,” said Davidson. “We needed our entire team to bring him down, plus we missed a lot of tackles on him.”
The Hatters had a couple of shots to close the gap but coughed up the football twice as they were driving down the field. Four plays after the second fumble, Kwadir Dlegado put the game on ice for Hamden with a 12-yard scamper with 2:26 to play.