MERIDEN >> Platt knew what to expect from North Haven Tuesday night: smash-mouth football between the tackles. But the Panthers were powerless to stop it.
As a result, North Haven is celebrating its first state playoff win in school history. The 7th-seeded Indians shut out No. 2 Platt 35-0 at Falcon Field in the Class L state quarterfinals.
“It is the best feeling in the world,” senior captain Ethan Suraci said. “We worked so hard in practice this week. We were watching films for hours preparing for this game.”
Said North Haven coach Tony Sagnella: “It just means a lot for me to watch this team continue to succeed. We are trying to inch forward every year. This was a growing point for us to get a road win against a good team. It was huge for us.”
North Haven (10-2) didn’t attempt a pass in the first half, yet was able to score three touchdowns. Platt was never able to answer.
“It was definitely the best team we played,” Platt coach Jason Bruenn said. “They kicked our butts. It is the most determined team we played this year. You can see it with the way they play. There is no break in them. We stuff them on one run, they’re like, ‘We don’t care because we are coming back and running it again on you and we are going to get (the first down) this time.’”
North Haven will face No. 3 New Canaan on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Law High in Milford.
“They are a quality program and it will take an enormous effort to get the energy after tonight to do that again,” Sagnella said. “It will take a total team effort. I’m glad I have these guys with me.”
Suraci had a game-high 115 rushing yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
Platt (11-1) actually drove down to the North Haven 3-yard line to start the game, but a personal foul thwarted that drive. North Haven answered with a 13-play, 83-yard drive, capped by Michael Montano’s 5-yard run to put the Indians up 7-0.
“That is a killer right there,” Breunn said. “It is a stupid penalty. I don’t know what the kid did, but he knows he shouldn’t be doing it. Would it have changed the outcome? I don’t know, but it at least would have given North Haven something to think about.”
North Haven’s next drive went 69 yards in 10 plays with Suraci scoring from 2 yards out.
The backbreaker came late in the second quarter. Mike Halloran intercepted Platt quarterback Andrew McBride and returned it 74 yards to the Platt 1. Halloran scored on the next play to put North Haven up 21-0.
The Indians held both McBride and Tyzhan Leatherwood, Platt’s leading rusher, in check. Leatherwood had under 10 yards total on the ground until late in the third quarter when North Haven already led 28-0.
“We have a great strength program. We have kids who work hard in the weight room. We are very fundamentally sound,” Suraci said.
North Haven 35, Platt 0
North Haven 7 14 7 7 — 35
Platt 0 0 0 0 — 0
N—Michael Montano 8 run (Sabrina Fronte kick)
N—Ethan Suraci 2 run (Sabrina Fronte kick)
N—Michael Halloran 1 run (Sabrina Fronte kick)
N—Cole Pecora 11 run (Sabrina Fronte kick)
N—Cole Pecora 1 run (Sabrina Fronte kick)
Team records: Platt 11-1; North Haven 10-2