With both teams entering with identical 5-1 records, Friday’s football match-up between Cheshire and North Haven high schools had the makings of an intense rivalry game. In a contest where every yard was a battle, the road team came away victorious.
NH (6-1) scored the game’s only touchdown in the first quarter and rode their defense to a 10-0 win at CHS (5-2).
CHS faced a fourth down on the opening drive, but when NH fumbled on the ensuing punt, the Rams recovered the ball at the Nighthawks 46-yard line.
Despite the turnover, NH responded by forcing another punt. On the next possession, the Nighthawks used their single-wing offense to reach the end zone.
On a run play, junior Camren Thompson broke free down the sideline for a 30-yard touchdown with 2:40 left in the first quarter.
Cheshire threatened on the following drive. In catching a screen pass from senior co-captain/quarterback Michael Simeone, junior running back Jeffery Gonzalez ran 41 yards down to the 2-yard line.
The Rams had a first and goal, but NH kept them out of the end zone on three straight run plays and then CHS missed a 23-yard field goal.
Cheshire had another chance to score in the second quarter. This time, Gonzalez broke free up the middle and ran 30 yards to the 21-yard line.
Defensively, NH stood tall again and forced the Rams to turn the ball over on downs at the 16-yard line.
The Nighthawks came back with a big play, as junior Adam Pandolfi rolled out and found classmate Ryan Bernardo for a 51-yard gain to the CHS 27-yard line. The Cheshire defense stepped up to force a fourth down and retook possession after an incomplete pass.
Defense continued to be the story in the second half. Cheshire and NH both chose to punt three times in the third quarter.
CHS thought they had momentum after Simeone connected with senior Luke Wiedemann on a 39-yard sideline pass to the NH 31-yard line, but the play was brought back for an eligible man down field penalty and the Rams ended up punting on the drive.
The Nighthawks finally extended their lead in the fourth quarter. Senior Jeffrey Karavas threw a 33-yard pass to senior Daniel-Mark Thomas and after CHS received a personal foul on the play, the ball was moved to the Cheshire 9-yard line.
The Rams pushed NH into a fourth down, but senior Declan Finkle still kicked a 20-yard field goal to put NH up 10-0 with 5:44 remaining.
After the teams both forced each other to turn the ball over on downs, the Rams had one more possession, but NH held them scoreless to end the game.
This story will be updated with comments.
Next Friday, the Rams travel to play Shelton (4-3) at 7 p.m.