Ledyard makes Hernandez a winner in his debut

Willimantic — Ledyard didn't so much as win its football opener as it won a survival of the fittest contest.

The Colonels made Jonathan Hernandez's coaching debut a success by outlasting Windham 48-37 in a battle of big plays on Friday night at Ferrigno Field.

"This shows us that our offense is working and that our defense needs work,'' said Ledyard quarterback Max Ebdon.

That could go for both teams, although some of the offense can be attributed to tired defenses. Ledyard led 15-7 at halftime before the game turned into a track meet.

Ebdon, a senior, was downright unstoppable. While he passed for 138 yards and a touchdown, it was his running that gave Windham fits. He rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns on 13 carries.

"Max has really changed a lot as a player,'' said Hernandez, the former UConn star. "At first he didn't know how to handle adversity. He does a good job with that now. He did a great job tonight.''

Senior Collin Wiltshire also came up big for the Colonels, running for 140 yards on 18 carries. Wiltshire's 47-yard touchdown run with 2:22 left in the game, followed by Jaiden Bickham's fourth extra point of the night, closed out the scoring and finally ended Windham's night.

Ebdon scored on runs of 67, 1, 11 and 65 yards. And Ledyard's firepower didn't come as a surprise to him.

"Coach said that we should try to score 70 points every game,'' said Ebdon. "Most teams don't expect a quarterback to run that much.''

Ebdon threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Preston Poulton and James Smith had a 17-yard touchdown run for the Colonels, who are coming off a 3-7 season.

And as big as Ebdon's performance was, Windham's Nate Barbosa gave the Colonels fits.

The junior kept the Whippets in the game, seemingly getting stronger as the game wore on despite playing fullback, linebacker and handling kicking duties.

Barbosa, who rushed for 52 yards in the first half, finished with 258 yards rushing on 27 carries, dragging defenders with him most of the night.

"I'm glad I didn't have to tackle him,'' said Hernandez. "He does everything. I wish him the best of luck this season.''

Barbosa ran for touchdowns of 7, 12 and 78 yards in the second half and a pair of 2-point conversions. Speedy Aaron Spicer also scored twice for Windham, once on a 79-yard kickoff return.

d.davis@theday.com

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