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ANSONIA — For seven minutes Sunday evening, this looked like it might be a shootout of an NVL football game, a back-and-forth show of playmaking offenses trading touchdowns.
Well, Ansonia’s defense and special teams put a stop to the back-and-forth pretty quickly. The Chargers’ offense made it a lot more “forth,” actually
After Holy Cross marched for a touchdown off the opening kickoff, Ansonia, ranked No. 8 in the GameTimeCT Top 10 Poll., shut down the Crusaders for the rest of the game, scored on its next four drives and beat Holy Cross 50-6 at Nolan Field.
“What changed defensively is our energy and how we came out,” said Ansonia junior lineman Ayden Mercer, who had at least a part in three sacks.
“The first drive wasn’t as active on defense, but as the game went along, we started realizing ... certain cadences. We realized, and we locked in for our team.”
After problems with its radio headsets forced Holy Cross to burn a time out before the first play from scrimmage, the Crusaders went 72 yards in seven plays. With those three sacks and a kneel-down costing them 25 yards, they netted only 53 yards the rest of the game.
What changed, coach Tom Brockett said, was “settling into their speed."
"The kid (Drew) Caouette is outstanding as a quarterback. (Marques Campbell) is tough. They give you some problems," Brockett said. "We made a couple of mistakes on first drive, but credit them. They did some good things early.”
Caouette completed his first nine passes, in fact. Campbell finished with seven catches for 95 yards and took a direct snap to punch in the first-drive touchdown from a yard out.
And that was about it. It did not help matters for Holy Cross that Ansonia recovered the kickoff after Machi Ingram (19 carries, 202 yards, four touchdowns) drove the Chargers down for their first score. Quintez Whittle made it 13-6 Ansonia. On the Crusaders’ next play, Mercer got in to sack Caouette, and Jacob Romanowski returned the fumble 20 yards.
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“I realized the tackle was stepping too much,” Mercer said. “I juked him out, swim move, and Big Red almost got a touchdown.”
Holy Cross fell to 4-2. The losses, to NVL blue bloods Ansonia and Naugatuck, are by a combined 92-13. But the Crusaders sit seventh in the Class M points standings with the top eight qualifying for the CIAC playoffs, and none of their four remaining opponents has a winning record.
Ansonia has Class S playoff contenders Oxford and Woodland still on the dance card as well as the annual Thanksgiving showdown with Naugatuck, this year at Nolan Field. The defending champion Chargers, winners of 19 in a row, sit second to Bloomfield in Class S.
Player of the Game
It could be Machi Ingram most weeks – 19 carries, 202 yards, four touchdowns, this feels like a recording – so let’s give a shout to the defense with Ayden Mercer, in on three sacks, the first of which gave the Chargers a short field for their third touchdown in the first quarter.
Ansonia wore pink for cancer awareness and honored Denice Hunt before the game. Hunt, a longtime presence in the town and school communities, is fighting cancer herself. Her late husband, Jack, was Brockett’s predecessor and had the team’s record for coaching wins before Brockett passed him earlier this year.
“The Hunt family has been one of the great families of Ansonia,” Brockett said.
“She’s as classy and as sweet of a lady as you’ll ever find. She’s been a second mother to so many young kids growing up in this community for a long, long time. She loves working in the school system, she loves Ansonia football, and we love her.”
“We have to improve our energy level when we come out: 50-6 is still an impressive score, but we need come out more aggressively.” —Ansonia lineman Ayden Mercer
Ansonia 50, Holy Cross 6