Overcoming distractions is never easy. The Dukes didn’t seem to struggle Friday evening, though.
Wellington (1-2) racked up 518 yards of offense, 31 first downs, and overcame an early hole in a 62-44 victory over the New London Wildcats (1-2).
Trevor Porter scored three well-rounded touchdowns in the victory — a 72-yard kickoff return, a 23-yard leaping reception in the back of the endzone, and an 85-yard interception return as the first half expired.
“I just saw green grass in front of me and started running,” said Porter of the interception return. “You just have to time your jumps right when you’re going up for a ball. On my touchdown catch, I ran a sort of modified post route that the safety bit on and we took advantage.”
Max Carevic was back as starting quarterback after sitting out Sept. 2 in a one-point loss to Columbia. He threw for 108 yards and a touchdown before being replaced by Tristan Arno in the second half. Head coach Sean Arno said Carevic was replaced for precautionary reasons and not because of a new injury.
“The run game worked for us tonight and it opened up the pass,” said Carevic. “Porter also made some great plays for us out there. Defensive touchdowns are always a huge momentum swing.”
Both Porter and Carevic said it felt great to be back home.
“It was definitely fun to be back here,” said Carevic. “It feels even better when you win.”
Carevic threw an interception on the Duke’s first offensive play that led to New London’s Jacob Molnar scoring a five-yard touchdown. Porter’s kickoff return tied the game before a six-yard run from Mason Wright gave Wellington a 14-6 lead.
New London retook the lead 22-14 in the second quarter with another Molnar run and a 38-yard pass. Carevic punched a score in from two yards out, but a missed extra point kept the Dukes down 22-21.
Another New London touchdown through the air made it 28-21 before Porter’s scoring grab and another missed extra point got the game back to a one-point differential.
After that, Wellington floored the gas pedal and didn’t look back.
Porter’s leaping interception and return gave the Dukes a 34-28 lead at halftime. In the third quarter, the team turned to its running game.
Tristan Arno ran in two second half touchdowns while Justin Skinner and Nate Nocella had one apiece. Two late scores from New London proved to be only cosmetic as the Dukes responded with a score of their own after each one.
Arno led all rushers with 124 yards on 12 carries. Nocella carried 10 times for 112 yards and seemed to pick up a first down every time he touched the ball late in the game.
Coach Arno was happy with the offensive output but hopes to see his defense improve its play in coming weeks.
“We didn’t make a ton of adjustments,” he said. “We just didn’t execute the stuff we needed to execute. I don’t feel good at all about giving up 44 points. We put our second team in there late and New London did not. Then we put our first team back in because (New London) wanted to fight to the end.”
The Dukes will travel to Oberlin this Friday before coming back home Sept. 23 to take on Brooklyn. By that time, $34,000 temporary bleachers will be in place that will stay at WHS stadium for the rest of the season.
“We need to continue to build and keep all these guys healthy on offense,” said Arno. “Them being on the same field at the same time is huge and the key to getting where we want to go.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Photos by Jonathan Delozier and Tom Hutson | Wellington Enterprise Players and cheerleaders celebrate after the Dukes came out victorious in their first home game of the season 62-44 over the New London Wildcats.