Game 6: Guilford running back leads Grizzlies past Centaurs
For a moment, it looked like it was going to be a scoring bonanza at the Bentley Athletic Complex.
In a span of 50 seconds in the first quarter of Woodstock Academy’s football game with Guilford, four touchdowns were scored.
Unfortunately for the Centaurs, Guilford scored the next three and it was the Grizzlies who made the ride back to the shoreline a happy one after they ended the first-ever meeting between the two programs with a 46-29 win.
The loss dropped the Centaurs to 3-3 on the season.
“I expected that, it typically happens” Woodstock Academy coach Sean Saucier said of the more normal goings on in the game after the chaotic first quarter. “I think they were very consistent. They probably ran the same four plays most of the game and blocked them well. They wore us out a little bit.”
Guilford (5-2) struck first.
It put together an 11-play drive that went 75 yards and finished when quarterback Tyler Hilgert (9-for-19 passing, 111 yards) found receiver Trevor Ridley in the back of the end zone on a third-and-goal play to put the Grizzlies up, 6-0.
Austin Amlaw took the ensuing kickoff up the gut for the Centaurs and went 60 yards before he was brought down on the Grizzlies 22-yard line.
Woodstock Academy quarterback Teddy Richardson (17-for-31 passing, 190 yards) went for it on first down and found one of his receivers, Brandon Nagle, in the back corner of the end zone and floated it in for the 22-yard score and a 7-6 Centaur lead.
It lasted all of 18 seconds.
Guilford returned the kickoff to their own 34 and on the first play from scrimmage, senior running back Mike O’Brien found an opening on the left side and went the remaining 66 yards to put the Grizzlies up, 12-7.
Woodstock Academy junior Seamus McDermott didn’t let that lead stand for long as he returned his second kickoff in two games for a touchdown on the next play, this one on an 82-yard return.
“We’ve been working on our kickoff returns so that’s rewarding. We’ve been working on blocking it differently so to see it come together like that was great,” Saucier said.
But it was O’Brien who would be the story of the day.
He finished with 31 carries for 240 yards and the Centaurs had no answer to stop him.
“He’s a good player. It’s what I saw on film and they block it well. He’s a tough kid,” Saucier said.
His running helped put Guilford ahead to stay in the second quarter.
The Centaurs were forced to punt and the Grizzlies got the ball on their own 44.
Four running plays by the senior back resulted in a 2-yard score for O’Brien to put Guilford up, 20-14.
It was 26-14 at the half as Hilgert completed a nine-play, 53-yard drive with a 1-yard score just eight seconds before halftime.
The Grizzlies raised their advantage to 18 on their first possession of the second half when Hilgert went in from 10 yards out.
But the Centaurs did come back to make it a 10-point game when Richardson found Lucas Theriaque (5 catches, 65 yards) with a dart for a 13-yard score with 11:38 to play.
“It was nice to see Nagle’s touchdown catch and both Lucas and Carter (Saracina) so, yeah, we have kids who can make plays. We just have to balance in the run game,” Saucier said.
The Centaurs only rushed for 43 yards in the game, led by junior David Bunning’s 14 yards.
O’Brien essentially put the game away when he scored from 13 yards out with 8:41 left. Dillon Burlakoff added a 35-yard score.
Woodstock Academy got its last points when Saracina (4 catches, 86 yards) reeled in a pass, despite being interfered with, from 26 yards out with 27 seconds to play.
The Centaurs are back at home on Saturday at the Bentley Athletic Complex for an Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I game against the Fitch Falcons at 1 p.m.