Fueled by a 30-point third quarter, the No. 6 West Haven High football team defeated No. 3 Hall High 51-26 in the state Class LL quarterfinals at Chalmers Stadium in West Hartford on Tuesday evening.
Turnovers were the difference in the game, as the Blue Devils capitalized on several Warriors’ fumbles (they had six in all) to turn a 14-13 halftime deficit into a 43-14 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Syracuse recruit Ervin Phillips rushed for 129 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries for West Haven, while quarterback Duane Gary threw for 123 yards and a touchdown and also returned a fumble 90 yards for another score while playing defense.
Hall High’s Thomas Honyotski was 21 for 39 for 361 yards and three touchdowns, while receiver Robert Parra had 10 receptions for 164 yards and two touchdowns.
The Warriors got off to a good start, taking a 7-0 lead when Honyotski connected with Octavio Thomas for a 30-yard touchdown with 3:59 left in the first quarter.
The Blue Devils responded early in the second quarter when Phillips scored on a 4-yard touchdown plunge to tie the score at 7-7.
On the next drive, Gary put West Haven up 13-7 when he picked up a Hall fumble at the Blue Devils’ 10-yard line, ran up the left sideline, darted back to the middle of the field and slalomed around Hall players, eventually ending up in the end zone.
But Hall came back later in the quarter, as Parra made a juggling catch in the end-zone to put the Warriors up 14-13 at the half.
West Haven opened the second half using its withering running attack to drive 55 yards on eight plays to put the Blue Devils up 19-14. After a three-and-out by the Warriors, West Haven struck again, this time needing just two plays to go 50 yards for another touchdown to make it 27-14 after the two-point conversion.
Hall drove from its own 26 all the way down to the 4-yard line. But Javone Bellamy fumbled at the goal line trying to score and West Haven recovered in the end zone for a touchback.
On the next play, Gary connected with receiver Zatrell Lyons for an 80-yard touchdown down the left sideline to make it 35-14 and essentially ending any hope for a Hall comeback.
A bounce finally went in Hall’s favor with 10:45 left in the game when Honyotski fumbled at the West Haven 2-yard line and Maurice Bell recovered the ball and advanced it in the end zone to make it 43-20.
But it was not enough to keep Hall’s season from coming to a close.The Warriors finished with a 10-2 record, while West Haven (10-2) advances to the state Class LL semifinals.
For more photos of the game, click here.