No. 4 West Haven overwhelms NFA 42-19

West Haven — Learn from it and move on. Those were two of the few things Norwich Free Academy could take from Saturday night's loss to West Haven.

The Wildcats were overwhelmed by Blue Devils 42-19 at Strong Stadium, and it wasn't even that close.

West Haven, ranked fourth in The Day's Top 10 state coaches' poll, jumped out to a 22-0 lead in the first quarter. They led 42-7 with five minutes left.

"(I) told them (after the game) that they have a choice to make," NFA coach Jason Bakoulis said. "I'm proud of how they responded to that choice. I'm proud of the way they're handling this, and I'm excited to see what this brings to the future of this program."

West Haven (6-0) is the only unbeaten team left in the Southern Connecticut Conference and play in the league's Tier 1, one of the roughest and toughest divisions in the state.

The Blue Devils looked every bit the part. Their of stable running backs were a blur, cutting and accelerating like cheetahs chasing down dinner. They combined to run 39 times for 437 yards and four touchdowns.

Here was the scary part about West Haven — it was junior running back Zach Conlan, not fellow speedsters Chris Chance or Kyle Godfrey, who did the worst damage.

Conlan hasn't put up the gaudy numbers that Chance and Godfrey have this season. He sure did Saturday night, though. He ran six times for 159 yards, including the game's first two touchdowns.

"I was just focused," Conlan said. "All I kept doing was just thinking about winning, and losing was not an option."

Conlan ran for a 46-yard touchdown on his team's second play. He added a 60-yard touchdown run to put the Blue Devils ahead, 15-0, with five minutes, 51 seconds left in the first quarter.

Conlan followed with a gut-busting interception. The Wildcats had a first-and-10 at the Westies' 33 when Conlan caught a tipped pass and returned it to the NFA 34.

"Zach gets a little overshadowed by the other two (running backs) right now," West Haven coach Rich Boshea said, "but he's a very good running back. "Zach is by no means the third option.

"He's a hard-nosed kid. He doesn't care if he gets the ball or not. He's willing to block and plays hard on both sides of the ball. He doesn't come off the field. John Madden would've given him one of those throw-back trophies or the All-Madden lunch pail team, or whatever you call it."

Chance ran for a 1-yard touchdown to extend West Haven's lead to 22-0 with 47 seconds left in the first quarter. He ran 13 times for 62 yards and a touchdown. He also threw a 13-yard touchdown to Jordan Wetmore on a halfback option play late in the first half to give the Blue Devils a 36-7 lead.

Godfrey ran six times for 102 yards, the bulk of which came on a 78-yard touchdown run.

"We knew they were fast," Bakoulis said. "They've got some players. They've got speed. It's just a matter (of us) taking the proper angles and making the tackles."

Shea McManaway completed 18 of 31 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns for NFA (2-3). Austin Richards also threw a 7-yard touchdown to end the game.

Nolan Molkenthin had nine catches for 158 yards and a touchdown for the Wildcats. Jahiem Spruill had four catches for 47 yards and a touchdown, and Kevin Pomroy scored on a 17-yard catch.

n.griffen@theday.com

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