Westhill back on track as Harding’s losses continue

The trends with which Westhill and Harding entered their FCIAC football game Saturday afternoon in Bridgeport were maintained after the Vikings’ 20-6 road victory. The Presidents (3-7) tried like heck to reverse their losing ways. Westhill (5-5) had won three in a row before a 40-7 thumping to Greenwich on Nov. 8, so the Vikings were able to get back on track.


Harding had lost five in a row before its 26-20 win over Bassick at Kennedy Stadium on Nov. 1. Between the victory over the Lions and the loss to Westhill was a meeting with Darien (9-1), like Greenwich one of seven FCIAC teams with two losses or fewer, which was going to be a challenge for Harding to defeat and indeed became a 47-23 loss on Nov. 9.


Yet the Westhill game was winnable for Harding. The Vikings’ strong defense and the Presidents’ inability to play perfect defense through all 48 minutes, however, led to another Harding loss, its seventh in the last eight games.


Westhill picked up from where it was before the Nov. 8 loss to Greenwich. The Vikings’ fourth win in their last five games was secured Saturday from a super strong defensive effort, from the play on the line through the linebackers and defensive backs. Add some inconsistent play from the Harding offensive line, noted by President’s interim head coach Eddie Santiago, and the path to victory for Harding was not going to be smooth.


Without adequate protection, Presidents’ quarterback T.J. Killings did not compile impressive statistics. He was 3 of 14 passing and was sacked three times, though he looked good in escaping on two scrambles. Killings was intercepted by Vikings’ safety Dante Fargnoli and linebacker Joe Schlessinger. Schlessinger’s was returned 13 yards for a touchdown that would give Westhill an insurmountable 20-0 lead in the middle of the second quarter.


Linebacker Brendan Ronan and cornerback Emmanuel Revange broke up Killings passes to the end zone on back-to-back plays on the last drive of the first half. Defensive end Chianta Holtzclaw had a big sack of Killings on Harding’s first possession of the fourth quarter when a score there could have helped the Presidents get back in it.


Harding’s comeback attempt lost steam because too many of its players had to play both ways. Westhill’s roster was at least twice the size of Harding’s. But before the Presidents lost steam, the Vikings scored two touchdowns on offense in the first half. Westhill quarterback Ryan Coppola (10 of 17, 133 yards) had a pair of touchdown passess – one to captain Evan Skoparantzos for 3 yards to open the scoring and the other to Fargnoli for 28 yards in the second quarter.


But Harding’s defense put enough pressure on Coppola for him to throw three interceptions.