HAMDEN — The past decade has not yielded many winning seasons for the Hamden football team.
On its Senior Night, the Green Dragons ensured it would not be their eighth consecutive losing campaign, as they notched their fifth victory with a 27-7 win over visiting Wilbur Cross in a Southern Connecticut Conference Tier 2 matchup at Joseph Bruno Field.
“We worked hard all season,” senior tailback/linebacker Davonte Mitchell said. “It means a lot. Coach Dyer has been pushing us.”
The last winning season accomplished by Hamden (5-2) came in 2009, when it finished 7-3.
This current group of seniors were freshmen when head coach Tom Dyer took over in 2016, and they have been instrumental in helping the program take positive steps back toward establishing a winning tradition. It wasn’t the most aesthetically-pleasing victory on Friday, but the Green Dragons did enough to earn the win.
“We’re excited to win tonight, but by no means do we feel we played a really good football game,” Dyer said. “I think we made a lot of mistakes… I think we had some good individual efforts.”
Hamden set up its first touchdown through a fumble recovered by Jawuan White. The Governors were in the midst of a nine-play drive before the turnover.
“That was a killer,” Cross head coach John Acquavita said. “It was an eight-minute drive. The game would’ve been different.”
Taking over at their own 6, the Dragons rolled 94 yards in 16 plays and overcame having a pair of long touchdowns erased via penalties.
“We have to eliminate those things if we want to have success moving forward,” Dyer said of the called-back touchdowns.
On the first snap of the second quarter, Edwin Figueroa scored from a yard out to stake Hamden to a lead it would not relinquish.
A turnover on downs, when Cross quarterback Marquel Caesar’s pass fell incomplete at the Hamden 48, led to the next Green Dragon touchdown.
Quarterback Isaiah Riley kept the ball on an option and sprinted 21 yards around the right side to the pylon to make it 13-0 with 1:51 left in the half. The key play on the drive was a 27-yard strike from Riley to Figueroa on third-and-4 from the Cross 48.
Chris Piggat and Tymell Haynes added second-half rushing scores, with Piggat racing for a 74-yard touchdown and Haynes rumbling in from 15 yards out.
There were no answers from the Governor’s offense, despite some big pass plays from Caesar to receiver Donald Burris.
The lone score for Cross came when Jy’zeyah Scurry punched in a 5-yard score at the 2:29 mark of the fourth.
“Our defense played well at times and shut them down,” Dyer said. “I’m a little disappointed in the end we couldn’t preserve the shutout. We have to finish the game and hold them out there. That’s the mark of a great defense, to be able to do those things.”
Cross dropped to 0-7 and will look to build some momentum over its final three games.
“We’re playing better football,” Acquavita said. “It’s not a win but we are playing better football.”