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Oct. 28: Centaurs hold off Bethel on Senior Day

The Achilles’ heel for the Woodstock Academy football team this season has been the second half.

The Centaurs, due to depth and size, can be worn down by opponents.

Fortunately, that wasn’t the case on Saturday in a 41-24 win over non-league foe, Bethel, at the Bentley Athletic Complex.

Although, Woodstock Academy head coach and athletic director Sean Saucier was admittedly a bit concerned early in that second half.

The Centaurs owned a 21-3 halftime lead but fumbled on their first possession of the second half at their own 42-yard line.

Four plays later, including a couple of plays for losses, Wildcat quarterback Gianluca Baia hit Enzo Marin with a 46-yard touchdown toss to cut the deficit to 12.

“The momentum started to swing and it started to feel familiar to some of the struggles we had earlier but, then (quarterback) Teddy (Richardson) and (offensive coordinator) Connor (Elliot) were able to put together a great sustained drive that took a decent amount of time. We were able to march down the field and put one in and, at that point, we felt pretty secure that we were in control,” Saucier said.

Indeed, the Centaurs (3-4) started at their own 28 and moved methodically upfield with a pair of big plays doing the most damage.

A personal foul on a 20-yard run by Eric Mathewson (17 carries, 79 yards)  helped the Centaurs get deep inside Bethel territory and a 20-yard pass from Richardson to Aiden Brailsford got them inside the 10.

Three plays later, Richardson dived into the end zone from a yard out.

It was the third touchdown of the game for Richardson who finished with 107 yards in rushing and scored a touchdown in each quarter.

“He was very persistent, ran the ball well, and we did a lot of zone read stuff with him. He made some good reads and some good pulls and found a lot of green turf. His legs helped carry the day,” Saucier said.

None were prettier than his 39-yard run where the Woodstock Academy quarterback broke through the line almost untouched in the fourth quarter and raced for a 39-yard score.

“They were in zero coverage, didn’t even have a safety back there. Once he was able to squeeze through the front seven, who were all basically at the line of scrimmage, there was no one left to tackle him. He was off to the races,” Saucier said.

The Centaurs started on a good note against the Wildcats (1-6) who got caught in traffic on their long-ish journey across the State and didn’t arrive until about 45 minutes prior to game time.

Before they could get their legs underneath them, they were behind on the scoreboard.

A fumble on the Bethel 2-yard line gave the Centaurs a golden opportunity. After going backwards on two plays, Richardson went in from nine yards out.

The Centaurs decided that they had the Wildcats on their heels so they attempted an onside kick which they recovered at the Bethel 42.

It took nine plays, but Mathewson fought his way across the goal line from four yards out to give the Centaurs a two-touchdown advantage at the end of the first quarter.

Bethel cut a little into the lead when Marin was successful on a 24-yard field goal four minutes into the second quarter.

But Richardson extended the lead with just 2 minutes, 19 seconds left in the half on a 24-yard run.

Richardson also was effective in the pass game as he completed 12 of 20 passes for 159 yards including a 42-yard scoring strike to Lucas Theriaque (3 catches, 70 yards) in the fourth quarter.

Prior to the game, the football team honored its 12 seniors.

“I think we went 19 (seniors two years ago), 17 (last season) and now 12. It’s still a healthy class, not as big as in years past, but it’s a healthy number,” Saucier said.

Richardson, Henry Wotton, Zach Majewski, Theriaque, Mathewson, Jacob Lizotte, Hunter Larson, Waylon Breault, David Bunning, Riley O’Brien, Anthony Buckner, and Kenny Brown will all graduate out of the program.

“There are certainly some key guys there that we rely on both sides of the ball. A Teddy Richardson on offense or Jacob Lizotte defensively and some of the new guys like Eric Mathewson and Zach Majewski who came out. They all play a pretty significant role,” Saucier said.

Woodstock Academy looks to even its record and pick up its first Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I win when it travels to Groton to play Fitch on Friday at 6 p.m.