It’s a year to remember.
Sometimes when two teams with losing records play a football game, it turns out to be a close exciting game, maybe even a barnburner. You never know. Add to that the fact that the two teams have a long intense rivalry and it makes the game even more exciting.
This year going into the 76th Thanksgiving Day game the Branford Hornets had a 2-7 record and the visiting East Haven Yellowjackets were 1-8.
Branford had defeated Jonathan Law and the co-op team Creed/Career/Whitney and East Haven defeated Bassick of Bridgeport in the opening game of the season for their only win.
This year the outcome turned into a rout as the Hornets cruised past the Easties, 37-0, while rolling up 314 total yards on offense while shutting out the visitors. Branford had 159 yards rushing and 155 passing.
Here Dan Thomas has half the East Haven team chasing him on a pass play.
Overall Teddy Gionteris kicked four extra points and a 29-yard field goal in the game.
Robert Lionetti breaks up a pass to East Haven’s Jake Marquardt.
Branford jumped out to a 7-0 lead when quarterback Sean Kelly hit wide receiver Dan Thomas on a 42-yard pass play at 5:22 of the first quarter.
Then on the next possession, after a punt return by Thomas, the Hornets scored again on a 6-yard jaunt by Kelly to up the lead to 14-0.
Branford had another score in the second quarter on a 24-yard Kelly to Aiden MacNeil touchdown pass to lead 21-0 at the break.
Kelly led the team in rushing yards gaining 91 yards on 17 carries for a 5.35 average and two touchdowns. His second score was a 13-yard keeper that he took into the end zone without being touched in the final quarter. Kelly also passed for 155 yards and two touchdowns.
Other Hornet points came from a 29-yard field goal by Teddy Gionteris and a 35-yard pick six by MacNeil.
Jackson Seward picked up yardage for the Hornets.
Along with his interception return MacNeil had three receptions for 70 yards and Thomas had four for 71 yards. Gionteris converted on four of five extra points along with his field goal.
And as good as the Hornets were on offense, they were stifling on defense, holding East Haven scoreless while only giving up 75 yards rushing and zero yards passing.
Jael Green led the defense with 11 tackles and assists and Jackson Seward had 10.
There were some special moments.
Dr Jack Kelly shown with his wife Jean was recognized by the athletic staffs of Branford and East Haven for his 25 years of service to both schools.
The cheerleaders did a great job.
Here Cheerleader coach Melissa Manzi (middle left) and her team get together during a break in the action.
And so did the band. Band Director Mallory Legman is at middle right with her band members.
“The turkey will taste a lot better now,” said coach John Limone after the game. “It was an outstanding performance by our guys today. They put on a great show on both sides of the ball, and we just dominated the entire game. I couldn’t be happier.”