STAMFORD — Danbury quarterback Malachi Hopkins ran for two touchdowns and threw for another as the Hatters gained 515 rushing yards Saturday in a 52-20 win at Westhill.
Hopkins ran 16 times for 184 yards and completed 5 of 11 passes for 67 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown to his older brother, R.J., who also ran for a touchdown. Running back Jack Pompea scored twice while gaining 120 yards on 16 carries and Malik Thomas also found the end zone on an 83-yard afternoon.
Westhill had some success setting the edge and containing sweep plays but couldn’t find an answer for Malachi Hopkins when he pulled the ball on the option and ran it himself. Hatters coach Augie Tieri called Hopkins “the focal point of our run game.”
“Usually when we do an outside scheme, it’s a read,” Pompea said. “So if I go outside, everybody’s flooding outside to stop me and he pulls it and everything’s open inside. And vice versa: If they crash inside, I have the whole open lane outside.”
“Everybody has their blocking, and if I read it right and find the hole, then that’s really it,” Hopkins added. “That happened in the game. … If they’re worried about me pulling it and running they’re going to focus on me and not Pompea.”
But neither player had much trouble Saturday. Danbury ran 48 times, averaging 10.7 yards while improving to 2-1. They scored so many long touchdowns that even leading 38-14 after three quarters, their red-zone offense was still 0-for-1 on the day, settling for a field goal in the first quarter after a drive that started on the Westhill 19. Their second trip inside the 20-yard line didn’t come until late in the fourth quarter, and Thomas scored from 16 yards out on the first red-zone play.
“It’s just desire,” Westhill coach Joey DeVellis said. “We can scheme guys however you want, but you just gotta want to run to the football and gotta want to make plays. We’re just looking for 11 guys who can do that. We’ll find them. It might take some time, but we’re going to find them.
“Our offense came out in the second half and played really well,” he added. “We got the ball to our guys, took advantage of the stuff we thought we could take advantage of the whole game.”
Vikings quarterback AJ Laccona completed 22 of 43 passes for 318 yards and two touchdowns. Both scores went to Angelo Nicholas, who caught nine passes for 117 yards.
Westhill (0-3) had two red-zone trips in the first half while trailing only 10-0, but Danbury’s defense came up big both times. On the first possession, Westhill completed a pass on fourth-and-goal, but Danbury’s Johan De Jesus Nunez made a touchdown-saving tackle on the 1-yard line.
On the next possession, Danbury defensive end/left tackle Jah Joyner recorded sacks on consecutive plays, forcing a punt. Joyner finished with three sacks and a fumble recovery.
Malachi Hopkins averaged 11.5 yards per rush and frequently victimized Westhill on third-and-long.
Danbury’s kickers were perfect on the day, hitting seven extra points and a field goal. Lucas Amaral was good from 24 yards while Jessica Resendes set her single-game best with two extra points.
Can Danbury run like that every game? “We hope,” Tieri said. “That’s what we’re striving for. But there’s some great teams out here. If we execute well, we’re capable of anything. That’s our belief. We’ve really kind of changed the mantra around here of our mindset, that we come into games and we expect to win. So far we’re really happy with how we’re coming along.”
Danbury hosts Hartford’s Capital Prep/Achievement First at 7 p.m. Friday while Westhill visits GameTimeCT No. 7 New Canaan at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Danbury 52, Westhill 20
Danbury 10 7 21 14 — 52
Westhill 0 0 20 0 — 20
D — R.J. Hopkins 29 pass from Malachi Hopkins (Lucas Amaral kick)
D — Amaral 24 FG
D — M. Hopkins 21 run (Amaral kick)
D — Jack Pompea 25 run (Amaral kick)
W — Marcellous Bell 2 run (pass failed)
D — M. Hopkins 21 run (Amaral kick)
W — Angelo Nicholas 16 pass from AJ Laccona (Laccona run)
D — R. Hopkins 35 run (Jessica Resendes kick)
W — Nicholas 40 pass from Laccona (run failed)
D — Pompea 29 run (Resendes kick)
D — Malik Thomas 16 run (Amaral kick)
Records: Danbury 2-1, Westhill 0-3