By John Goralski
A 30-yard field goal just missed by inches, but Southington answered with a 42-0 rally. Three long touchdown strikes coupled with a pair of touchdown runs quieted the Conard crowd, and the Knights continued their early dominance with a 42-7 win over Conard in Southington’s first scheduled home game at Falcon Field in Meriden.
So far, it hasn’t mattered where the Knights play. They’ve outscored opponents, 153-28, on four different fields. On Saturday, Oct. 6, the Knights were nearly perfect. It took a 100-yard dash late in the fourth quarter to spoil Southington’s quest for a second straight shutout. Coach Mike Drury was unfazed by the late lapse.
“It was a solid, full team performance—offensively, defensively, and special teams again,” said the coach. “We let up that one late there, but the guys played tough. They executed, and they did their jobs.”
For the second straight week, Jarrid Grimmett set the pace. The junior running back attacked the line of scrimmage, collecting 98 yards and two touchdowns in the first half with a pair of second quarter touchdowns to give the Knights a 21-0 lead at the break. Grimmett rushed 15 times in the contest and finished with 126 of Southington’s 212-yard assault.
“I can’t take all the credit. It’s definitely the line,” he said. “They’re putting huge holes out there, and I could drive a car through one of them. They’ve been working their butts off all week, and they’re not letting up any time soon.”
Southington worked their game plan to near perfection. The run set up the pass. The pass set up the run, and the defense held Conard’s triple-option running game to just 66 yards in the first half and 101 yards in the game.
Corbin Garry (2 sacks) and Dave DiNeno led the rush with nine tackles apiece. Zach Jamele scored eight tackles with three in the backfield, and Zach Maxwell collected eight tackles. Tyler Hyde, Justin Rose, and Zach Jamele recovered fumbles. Nate Bonenfant intercepted one of Conard’s six passing attempts, and the Chieftains never did establish their offense.
“It’s tough because one missed assignment and as you can see a third and long play can get the first down,” said Drury. “We had to be really careful in our play calling in terms of what we were going to dial up for certain situations. We didn’t want to get ourselves in trouble, but the guys stepped up when they needed to and got the stops.”
The Knights dominated the time of possession with almost 450 yards of total offense. Quarterback Step-hen Barmore completed 15 passes to five different receivers and orchestrated scores in every quarter. The first one came in the final minute of the first quarter. Barmore scrambled out of danger and threaded a 30 yard pass through three Conard defenders to hit Jamele in stride in the end zone.
“He played solid tonight. He made some very good throws, and he’s able to do some things with his legs,” Drury said about his junior quarterback. “He’s getting better each week, and I thought tonight was a big night for him. We’re looking for him to keep getting better.”
Anthony Bonenfant opened the second half with a 31 yard touchdown reception in the waning moments of the third quarter. Tyler Hyde scrambled for a 57-yard touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter, and Barmore capped the run with a 54-yard pass to Bonenfant to give the Knights a 42-7 lead.
“We’ve been waiting for that big explosive receiving core to go off because we know that we have it in us,” said Bonenfant. “We’re making a statement that we’re one of the top teams in the state.”
The only blemish on the night came with 6:25 remaining in the fourth quarter. Kyle Smick’s kick-off pinned Conard deep in their own zone. Conard’s Stacy Thomas broke through the Southington defenders and sprinted down the sidelines for a 91-yard kickoff return. Despite the score, the Knights emptied their bench on the following possession.
With the 42-7 victory, Southington improved to 4-0 in the early season. They’ll try to carry that momentum into South Windsor on Saturday, Sept. 13 for a 1 p.m. kickoff against the Bobcats (0-4). South Windsor is coming off a 41-12 loss to Simsbury.
“We’re going to their place, and it’s the first time we’ve been there in a lot of years. Last time we faced them, it was in New Britain,” said Drury. “We’ve got to play our physical brand of football and execute.”
So far, so good.
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