MARION — The first play for Governor’s Academy Saturday resulted in a 52-yard run by Thomas Vailas. It was a sign of things to come. Governor’s was unstoppable, scoring 67 points in the first half en route to a 67-19 win over Hamden Hall in the Kevin Fleming Bowl at Tabor Academy.
It was the third consecutive NEPSAC bowl victory for Governor’s Academy (8-1).
“It’s very exciting,” said Governor’s Academy coach Jim O’Leary. “The program has really come alive, the kids love to play, and it’s fun to coach.”
Senior running back Jesse Gwozdz had a monster game for the Govs, rushing for 209 yards and six touchdowns.
“That was incredible,” O’Leary said. “He is a one-man wrecking machine. The kid in my eyes is the MVP of the league. He just plays hard every single game and that’s what you get out of him. It’s nice to have him on your team.”
Gwozdz, who had touchdowns of 3, 39, 13, 11, 51, and 44 yards, had the best performance of his career in his final game. The senior is committed to play lacrosse next year at Fairfield University.
“It was all working out today, I can’t really explain it,’’ Gwozdz said. “It’s bittersweet. It’s a good way to go but I wish I could have one more.”
Gwozdz wasn’t the only Governor to find success on offense, as Vailas passed for three touchdowns.
At one point, the Govs scored 45 straight points.
“It’s hard to tell on film how good a team really is and you try and look at your competition but we just overmatched them in every aspect of the game,’’ O’Leary said.
“It’s definitely a tale of different leagues. No question about it, the ISL is one of the toughest leagues in high school football, every game is a tough one and I just think that when you face a team like this, it shows.”
The Governor’s defense was also impressive, forcing four turnovers, including a fumble recovery on a kickoff that led to a 15-0 lead before Hamden Hall had the ball on offense.
“We really worked hard this week on pass coverage and they have great athletes over there, but we got a little pressure on them and I think they felt our team speed and our toughness,” O’Leary said.
In the three years O’Leary has coached the Govs, he has instilled a tradition of winning NEPSAC bowls, a tradition seniors such as Gwozdz have tried to continue.
“[My] sophomore year the seniors carried us and [my] junior year the seniors did it, and I think we followed their footsteps, so we just had to keep playing the way we had these last few years,” Gwozdz said.