By Mike Madera
GREENWICH >> With Ervin Philips spinning to the ground after making a spectacular catch inside the Greenwich 20-yard line, the West Haven football team, ranked fifth in the Register Top 10 poll, was poised to build on its lead over the Cardinals early in the third quarter.
By the time Philips got back to the huddle, three bolts of lightning flared across the sky, delaying the game between powerhouses West Haven and Greenwich in the SCC/FCIAC Challenge at Greenwich High with 8 minutes, 33 seconds left in the third quarter.
After waiting more an hour with West Haven leading 13-7, the decision was made to postpone the rest of the contest until Sunday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. at the same site.
“It is a strange situation,” West Haven coach Ed McCarthy said. “We have a couple of days. We will look over some film and see what we need to do as I am sure they will too.”
With weather forecasts not favorable, the two teams hoped to get the game in. While the sky darkened in the first half, the rain held off until the lightning show.
This afternoon was a possible time to finish the game, but with the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, the final decision was to play Sunday.
West Haven was put in the same situation a few years back against Hamden, leading Friday night before playing poorly when the game resumed on Saturday in a late win.
“We came back the next day against Hamden and played like garbage,” McCarthy said. “They will hear about that the next two days.”
When play resumes, the Westies will have a first down at the Greenwich 18 on their first possession of the second half. The drive was set up after Marquis Lockhart recovered a fumble by Greenwich quarterback Jose Melo, which was the third turnover of the game for the Cardinals.
“It is weird,” Greenwich coach Richard Albonizio said of the stoppage in play. “I have never had it happen. They are a classy program with a classy staff. Their kids are great. We are both in the same situation. We have to do what is best for the kids.”
Before the weather issues, both teams had opportunities but could not hold on to the ball. Each team turned the ball over twice in the first half, with a fumble by West Haven quarterback Duane Gary returned 15 yards for a score by Kendrick Pozo with 6:03 left in the second quarter for a 7-0 Greenwich lead.
Gary atoned for the fumble by returning the ensuing kickoff to the West Haven 43. Three plays later, Philips was in from 40 yards out to even the game at with 4:55 left in the first half.
“We had one of the most disastrous plays we have had to lead to their score, then he (Gary) shows the type of person he is with the big return,” McCarthy said. “He gave us good field position and it turned the game around for us.
“I thought Erv ran well. Our offensive line did not play particularly well. Duane (Gary) and Erv got a lot of those yards on their own. We have to correct that.”
West Haven took a 13-7 lead with 1:21 left in the half as junior Marshont Little raced 31 yards for the score. The extra point was wide to the left, keeping the lead at six.
“We are playing a very good team,” Albonizio said. “They have two terrific backs. They are not good. They are excellent. They are tough to bottle up. We need more offense too.”
Philips has 125 yards on 15 carries when the game resumes.
Norman Doss had a fumble recovery and John Brolet an interception for West Haven.