Whalers switch to a turbo-defense

New London - New London High School's turbocharged offense was sputtering a bit Saturday night, so senior defensive lineman Dwayne Sablon took matters into his own hands.

Literally.

Late in the third quarter, Sablon took a handoff from East Lyme quarterback Mitchell Murphy and ran for a 36-yard touchdown for the Whalers.

Yeah. You read that right.

"I just ran in, and by the time I noticed, I got the ball and kept on running," Sablon said after New London's 45-7 Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division romp at Cannamela Field.

"I just grabbed the handoff and kept on running."

Video replay showed the ball slipped through the hands of a Vikings tailback and into Sablon's hands. It gave the Whalers a 33-7 lead.

"I didn't even know what happened," New London senior co-captain Caleb Camacho said. "I just saw Sablon running."

Ackee Barber completed 18 of 33 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns with three interceptions for the Whalers (3-0, 1-0). They also fumbled it away twice.

New London was able to get succeed in spite of its turnovers because its defense and special teams each scored twice.

"It was a weird game," New London coach Duane Maranda said. "We never really got in our normal (offensive) tempo and our flow, but it's hard to say when you've won 45-7."

Jose Garcia scored on a 56-yard punt return for New London. Joquin Riley blocked a punt that teammate Lamont Waites returned for an 18-yard touchdown.

Camacho scored on a 57-yard interception return, too.

So, yeah, the Whalers defense and special teams scored more than the offense.

"I thought defensively that we played pretty well," East Lyme coach Paul Tenaglia said. "We created a number of turnovers, but they're a big play team."

East Lyme (0-3, 0-2) managed just six first downs. Eric Stirtan ran for 70 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

As a team, the Vikings had 42 carries for 82 yards. And 52 of their 62 passing yards came on one play.

Niko Ramos and Ahmond Gomez both had interceptions for the Whalers. Sammy Miranda and Hunter Roman each added a sack.

"They have a very good defense," Tenaglia said. "They were loading the box, and we were having trouble running the football. And they were playing tight (pass) coverage. It's hard to throw the football (against that)."

New London's offense started off well as Barber used a pump fake to freeze the defense and throw a 90-yard touchdown to Ramos early in the first quarter to take a 7-0 lead.

Garcia had four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown for the Whalers. Camacho added three catches for 43 yards and a touchdown.

Yet it was the Whalers' defense and special teams that kept putting points on the board.

"The special teams did phenomenal tonight, and our defense got us two touchdowns," Maranda said. "I'm happy that we got tested offensively a little bit more than we have because we have to learn from it.

"We have to look at it on film. We have to learn from that and do a better job as coaches and pick that apart a little bit more."

n.griffen@theday.com

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