WINDSOR – A full football season did little to change the balance of power between Maloney and Windsor.
The Spartans’ inclination to turn the ball over and failure to generate offense hurt them in Week 1. Ten weeks later, the same circumstances have them putting the helmets away for the winter.
An early turnover for a score seemed to take the heart out of the Spartans and Tomasz Johnson scored four touchdowns Tuesday night to lead Windsor to a 36-0 Class L quarterfinal conquest at Jack O’Brien Stadium.
Maloney coach Kevin Frederick was buoyed by an uplifting week of practice, but it didn’t translate to game day.
“Windsor’s good football team, but they’re not that much better than us,” he said. “We just didn’t execute. I thought the defense kept us in the game in the first half, but we didn’t help them out.”
Third-seeded Windsor (10-1) advances to Sunday’s semifinals against No. 2 Daniel Hand, which pummeled North Haven in Madison. No. 6 Maloney, which had its nine-game win streak snapped, finishes at 9-2, both defeats coming on the road at the hands of the Warriors.
“We work all year to get to this point. We expect to be here,” Windsor coach Rob Fleeting said. “We’ll try to continue on Sunday. We play every game like its going to be our last and, usually when you play it that way, you move on to the next round.”
Maloney, 0-7 against the Warriors all time, has gone without points against them for 12 consecutive quarters.
Two plays into the game, Windsor’s Jerry Woodard stepped in front of a pass from quarterback Larue Graham and raced 30 yards for the score. Johnson blasted in for a two-point conversion and with a mere 36 seconds having elapsed, Maloney was in a hole.
“We had a miscommunication between the receiver and the quarterback,” Frederick said. “We’ve been down most of our games, so we’ve been there before.”
After Maloney went three and out, the defense held the Warriors in check. Tackle Desmond King continued to control the middle of the line as he did on Thanksgiving against Platt. Josh Oquendo, Mitch McEwen and O’Neal Ward made plays, but the ensuing punt pinned Maloney inside its 15.
Maloney went three and out.
A 46-yard punt by Adam Williams set Windsor back on its 29, but field position changed rapidly when Woodard took an inside handoff 47 yards. The first quarter ended with the Warriors on the Maloney 1. Johnson scored on the next play and Woodard tacked on the two points for a 16-0.
Two plays by King behind the line pushed Windsor inside its 10 and Maloney took over at the Warriors’ 44. A five-yard run by Aden Valentin and a personal foul gave the Spartans their initial first down at about the 22. That was as far as they’d get.
Just like in the season’s first game – a 28-0 Windsor win – the Maloney defense turned in a memorable goal-line stand, but it was just window dressing in a first half where the Spartans netted just 15 yards.
The second half featured more of the same.
The Maloney defense bent, but didn’t break. The offense went three and out for the fifth time.
On Windsor second possession of the third quarter, Johnson (27 carries, 247 yards) burst into the secondary and raced 77 yards for a touchdown and a 22-0 Warrior lead.
A 49-yard pass play from Graham to Victor Marquez (5 catches, 77 yards) that pushed the Spartans inside the red zone with just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter was Maloney’s first sign of life. A motion penalty nullified a touchdown pass and the Spartans fumbled on the next snap.
“Windsor’s got a stingy defense with some really good athlete,s so we need to be perfect on execution,” Frederick said. “We had some plays that were open. Sometimes we didn’t protect and sometimes ouur receivers dropped the ball. Every time it was something different.”
Two plays later, Johnson took a short pass from Jackson and motored down the sideline for a 70-yard scoring play.
A 24-yard strike from Graham to Chris Infante went for naught when the snap on fourth-and-1 from the Windsor 24 was bobbled.
A bad snap that forced Williams to run the ball through the back of the end zone for a safety with 8:07 left set the running-time rule in motion and brought in Windsor’s second string.
Graham went 8-for-15 with an interception for 105 yards, most of which came after the verdict was in. The ground game produced negative yardage.
“We went into the game trying to be as balanced as possible, especially against this team,” Frederick said. “We tried to keep them guessing. Screens, run game, passing attack. When we got down so much we had to change our game plan and do things that are unconventional. We even messed up a trick play that produced a touchdown because too many men were in motion. It’s disappointing.”