By PHIL BRODSKY
Orange Live Sports Writer
Jalon White’s glorious football career has come to an end. North Haven’s 5-foot 10-inch senior speedster wrote the final chapter to his outstanding scholastic grid career Thursday morning at Vanacore Field in North Haven. He shredded the Amity defense for 293 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries and also tossed an 18 yard pass to lead his Indians to a 32-7 Southern Connecticut Conference inter-divisional victory.
Following the victory, White was named his team’s Outstanding Offensive Player of the Game. With this win, North Haven ended its season with a 7-3 record. It was the fourth Thanksgiving Day loss in a row for the Spartans, who still lead the series 9-7-1. They closed out their season at 4-6.White’s spectacular senior statistics show that he gained 1837 yards, scored 25 touchdowns on 218 carries, and recorded 150 points.
Looking back at the first half, which saw each team score as the result of a first period turnover, and his Spartans take a 7-6 lead into the locker room, Amity Coach Bert Mozealous said, “We played hard and took advantage of North Haven mistakes. In addition, we did a great job of playing assignment football.”
The Spartans “limited” White to 122 yards and one score on 14 carries, but his fumbled punt led to the Spartan touchdown that gave them their one point lead. Amity was fortunate to escape the first half with that slim lead. On the final two plays of the first half, White dashed for gains of 21 and 33 yards but time ran out with the Indians camped on the Amity 7-yard line.
The entire third quarter belonged to White and his Indian teammates. His runs of 17 and 15 yards got North Haven to the visitors 3. White’s three yard spring into the end zone with 10 minutes, 19 seconds to go gave North Haven a 12-7 lead. On its next possession, Amity went nowhere and punted the ball away on fourth down. Setting up shop at their own 42, the Indians gave the ball to White who raced around his left side and went untouched for 55 yards before being rolled out of bounds at the Spartan 3-yard line. Two plays later, White added a one-yard touchdown that made it 18-7 with 7:56 still left in the third quarter.
Amity got the ball back and moved it to its own 49. On fourth down and needing four yards for a first down, Mozealous gambled and went for it rather than punting. That move soon backfired as David Ryan’s pass fell incomplete. Ignited by Ethan Suraci’s 11 yard run for a first down and White’s 14 yard scamper for another first down, North Haven needed eight plays to cover 51 yards. Junior Jim Halloran made it 25-7 as he cashed in on an eight yard TD with 2:22 to go.
On the first play after the North Haven touchdown, Dave Attolino ripped through the center of the North Haven defense for 54 yards and a first down at the Indian 19. Four plays netted only six yards and the ball went back to North Haven on downs. Early in the fourth quarter, Matt Attolino blocked an Indian punt, giving his team the ball at the Indian 35. On fourth down and less than a yard to go for a first down, Dave Attolino was stacked up at the line of scrimmage.
According to Mozealous, “We needed only a yard for the first down but our best back couldn’t get the job done.”
He added, “In the second half, they were able to establish and control the offensive line of scrimmage. We didn’t get outside quickly enough to stop the sweep like we did in the first half. I think having to constantly be chasing White tired us out and we aren’t deep enough to give breaks to our defensive guys. In addition to our lack of depth, we had linebacker injuries and some costly breakdowns on defense.
Following White’s 28 yard dash, his 18 yard flip to Carlos Martinez, and Suraci’s20 yard gallop, the Indians were on the Amity 10. Two plays later Suraci capped the 74 yard-six play drive with his five yard touchdown that extended his team’s lead to 32-7 with 4:23 left in the game.
“We had our chances but they did a great job of stopping us in the third and fourth quarters,” said Mozealous. “We were inconsistent up front, but credit North Haven. They played great second half defense and stopped us in key situations. We were still in the game at 18-7 but once they scored again, they forced us to throw the ball and after that, we were cooked.”
Amity’s first possession of the game ended when Indians’ linebacker Kevin Brennan intercepted a Semmonella pass at the hosts’ 34. Following a 20 yard run by White, Halloran added 12 yards and a first down at the Amity 28. Quincy Pecora moved the ball 17 yards closer and then White cashed in on a four yard run with 6:54 left in the first period, but the score remained 6-0 as the Indians missed the PAT.
Later in the first quarter, White let a fourth down punt slip out of his hands and Matt Attolino recovered the loose ball at the Indian 24. With Dave Attolino leading the way and capping the eight play march, with a three yard TD, Amity took a 7-6 lead on Lyle Luth’s conversion kick with 16.6 seconds left in the opening session.
While his scholastic career ended on a sour note, Dave Attolino still had an outstanding game, picking up 159 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. He racked up 1114 yards, 13 scores, and 78 points on 191 carries. At the end of the game, he was named the recipient of the annual Thomas Laugeni Award for being his team’s top player of the game.
Mozealous added, “Dave’s a tough kid and had a great game today.”
Clearly savoring his team’s fourth win in a row over Amity, North Haven’s veteran coach, Anthony Sagnella said, “Going into the game, I thought it was going to be a line of scrimmage battle. During the first half, I thought both lines executed very well, but we took control early in the second half and gained momentum as we went on. Amity did a good job of getting to Jalon in the first half, but we also killed ourselves with penalties in the first half. Finally, we came around in the second half. Our guys rose to the occasion and did a great job in the second half.”
During the first half, the Spartans ran 40 offensive plays compared to only 18 for the winners. The second half told a different story as North Haven held a 34-22 edge in plays. The Indians also held the edge in virtually all offensive categories: first downs (21-nine), rushing yards (432-209) and total offense (464-242). Amity completed only three of 13 passes for 33 yards and had two throws intercepted. North Haven was good on two of its three throws with one picked off.