"GN" drops a 42-25 decision to North Branford.
NORTH BRANFORD: The rumors of the Thunderbirds football team’s demise are simply that.
The team that was the number two team in Class S last year, and earned a berth in the championship game had lost a great deal of talent after that magnificent campaign a year ago.
On Friday night at home, North Branford reminded folks that they are still here, doing fine and still loaded with talent.
The Thunderbirds used a powerful offensive line and a pair of terrific athletes to push by Gilbert/Northwestern by a 42-25 score and improve to 3-0 on the year.
Add another digit to that winning streak, it now sits at 22 and counting.
“GN” came in off wins over Cromwell and Granby Memorial and had watched running back Tony Ortiz run crazy and quarterback John Lippincott pick apart defensive units at will in their first two games.
“We knew they had good skill players,” head coach Mark Basil said. “We didn’t know what they had up front, how we would match up.”
The Thunderbirds won the battle of the line on both sides of the ball, shutting down Ortiz in the process.
The senior got his 10-15 yard bursts early in the game but was not able to break anything long, the Thunderbirds made sure of it.
“We wanted to channel him into an area we could control,” Basil said. “Our guys rose to the occasion.”
North Branford held Ortiz to just 85 yards rushing, his longest was 14-yards.
Lippincott took the load of the offense on by throwing 35 times for 263 yards and three touchdowns.
The senior quarterback also rushed for 66 yards and earned praise from the North Branford skipper.
“That’s a tough quarterback they have over there,” Basil said, “He’s hard to handle and refuses to go down.”
Basil had a couple of special players himself in Eddie Miller behind center and Austin Calamita at a little bit of everything.
Miller is a deceptive runner who can get the ball downfield as well while Calamita ran, caught passes and even returned punts and kickoffs.
This was won on the offensive and defensive lines, in the trenches.
The visitors went up early on a fumble recovery in the end zone by Paxton Franklin after Lippincott fumbled on a run at the one and the ball went into the end zone.
North Branford answered back fast on a 62-yard score off a swing pass from Miller to Calamita.
The Thunderbirds defense stopped the Yellowjackets twice on fourth down, the second time led to a 22-yard touchdown run by Shelby Franklin.
Cory Seymour scored on a three yard run that gave the home team a two score lead midway through the second quarter.
“GN” was putting together a drive just before the half but was stymied but a stubborn North Branford defense.
Seth Dayton had four catches good for 125 yards and a touchdown while Franklin had two touchdown grabs, one that went for 63-yards.
It’s back to the drawing board for Scott Salius and company, who need to improve on the defensive side of the ball.
“They didn’t do anything that surprised us,” Salius said. “We saw it, planned for it but when it came down to it we either got beat on the line or did not execute it.”