WILLIMANTIC >> Plainfield produced the state’s biggest upset a week ago. But Windham staked its claim as eastern Connecticut’s best small school Friday night.
And the Whippets didn’t stick to their usual script to do it.
Windham broke from its usual double-wing character and blitzed Plainfield with two long touchdown passes during a 22-point scoring binge late in the second quarter in a 49-29 victory at Ferrigno Field.
“I think we have an arsenal of weapons,” said Cullen Cantos, who scored a pair of insurance touchdowns in the second half. “You shut one of us down, we have another. If you shut him down, we have another. And we have a great quarterback to lead us.”
Quarterback Brody Labbe, a converted halfback, threw for 100 yards and accounted for three touchdowns. Joseph Santiago caught a touchdown pass and threw another as Windham stayed unbeaten at 4-0.
“The offense can erupt like that,” Windham coach Brian Crudden said. “The development of Brody Labbe, he was a halfback last year and we moved him to quarterback, and his development as a passer has come along quicker than I’d anticipated. And we wanted to utilize that.”
Crudden said he respected Plainfield’s big-play capabilities, too. And, for much of the first half, Windham found itself in a shootout. While Labbe capped long drives with a pair of touchdown runs for Windham, Plainfield quarterback Steve Jankowski always responded with a huge scoring play.
He hit Cody Alday with a 36-yard touchdown strike and, later, found Isaiah Fort over the middle for a 49-yard touchdown. The score was tied 13-13 in midway through the second quarter.
“We knew they had big play capabilities,” Crudden said. “We think Jankowski is an oustanding quarterback and is a great all-around athletes. It was good for us to experience it. Good teams are going to make big plays against us and we had to move forward and make adjustments.”
But Windham proved it could make some big plays, too. A lot of them.
With just five minutes left before halftime, Labbe threw a 56-yard bomb over two defenders to Joseph Santiago, who walked into the end zone for a 20-13 lead.
The Whippets were just getting started. Joseph Fogarasi picked off Jankowski on Plainfield’s next series and, just a few plays later, Seiji Aruzgata scored on a short run for a two-touchdown lead.
Jakir Gomez recovered the ensuing squib kickoff for Windham. Sensing an opportunity, Santiago tossed a halfback option pass that Francarlo Rivera wrested away from his defender for a 49-yard touchdown for a 35-13 lead.
In 2 1/2 minutes, Windham had scored 22 points.
“It was a phenomenal defensive play and their kid just willed it into his hands somehow,” Plainfield coach Pat Smith said, recounting the last of the series’ unfortunate events. “And that was the big turn of events. But we never quit.”
Plainfield did get a touchdown back when Jankowski found Alday for a 23-yard score to make it 35-19 at halftime. And, it opened the second half with Jordan Federer’s 1-yard touchdown run to pull Plainfield to within 35-27.
But Windham went back to the ol’ double wing to put the game away. Contos ended a long drive with an 8-yard run toward the end of the third quarter. After Plainfield failed on a 4th and 10 deep inside its own territory, Contos made it 49-27 with a 13-yard scoring run.
“They had too much up front of us today,” Smith said. “They were more physical than us up front.”
Winning the ECC Small is important to Windham. The Whippets are 2-0 in the division now, with really only a Week 6 matchup with Griswold standing in its way. Windham lost by a point to Griswold a year ago.
“We set set small goals and we get to the big ones later,” Contos said. “We want to win our league, of course. But we want to make playoffs and then see what we can do in playoffs.”
PLAINFIELD 7 12 8 2 — 29
WINDHAM 13 22 7 7 — 49
W–Brody Labbe 1 run (kick)
P–Cody Alday 36 pass Steven Jankowski (Jankowski kick)
W–Labbe 1 run (run failed)
P–Isaiah Fort 49 pass Jankowski (kick failed)
W–Joseph Santiago 56 pass from Labbe (Santiago run)
W–Seiji Aruzgata 8 run (run failed)
W–Francarlo Rivera 49 pass from Santiago (Aruzgata run)
P–Alday 23 pass from Jankowski (pass failed)
P–Jordan Federer 1 run (Jankowski run)
W–Cullen Contos 8 run (kick)
W–Contos 13 run (kick)
P–Safety, Aruzgata recovered fumble in end zone
Team Records: Windham 4-0, Plainfield 3-1