By John Goralski
In the opening minutes of the game, it looked like the Southington football team was still resting after their battle with Glastonbury. A penalty and fumble pinned their backs against their own endzone.
On fourth down, the football bounced off the turf in the endzone and Nate Bonenfant was barely able to regain possession and kick it over the fingertips of Hall’s defenders.
A few plays later, Hall was celebrating a 7-0 lead.
On Saturday, Oct. 27, the Knights fumbled on each of their first two possessions, and it looked like they’d soon be celebrating a two touchdown advantage.
Coach Mike Drury signaled for his defense in desperation.
“We got pinned down in our own zone. The ball was slipping out of our hands, and it’s the little things that we have to do in a game if we want to come out as the winner. I just think we weren’t as focused as we wanted to be, but the kids responded and tightened the ship up. They knew what they had to do.”
The defense led the way. On a fourth down just outside Hall’s red zone, David DiNeno intercepted a pass and returned it 80 yards to tie the score, 7-7. It was just what the Knights needed to get started.
“It felt great,” DiNeno said. “They were in our red zone and it felt great to stick it to them and show them that we were there to win. They scored first, and we had to really show them that we couldn’t let that happen again.”
On Hall’s next possession, the defense forced another turnover. At the start of the second quarter, Corbin Garry secured Southington’s second interception of the day. Justin Rose had a fumble recovery and an interception. Mike Lange and Stephen Barmore secured interceptions. Southington forced seven turnovers in total, and ran away with a 48-10 victory.
“They play with intensity, and they play together with the scheme that we’ve developed,” said Drury. “They really buy into it, and they’re flying around. They’re just playing with intensity. If you do all those little things, and do your job on top of it, you can have a solid defense.”
For the first time this season, Southington runners struggled with a pair of early turnovers and just 58 yards of rushing for the day, so the Knights turned to their passing game. Hall never knew what hit them. Barmore completed 16 of his 25 passes (.640) for 342 yards and four touchdowns. He connected with Garry six times for 183 yards, and three catches resulted in Southington scores. Anthony Bonenfant (90 yards) scored a 51 yard touchdown reception, and Connor John (69 yards) averaged 13.8 yards per reception.
“It feels great to air it out. Obviously, the running game was a little slow to develop. When you can’t run, you throw. I’m just glad that I was able to perform and help my team,” said Barmore. “Over the course of seven weeks, eventually something’s got to click. I think everyone was on the same page today. We were really communicating well, and it obviously showed.”
Garry was the main threat for the Knights, averaging 30.5 yards per catch. His 39-yard score in the second quarter gave Southington the lead for good. An 18-yard strike capped Southington’s scoring in the fourth quarter, but it was a broken play in the third quarter that put the game out of reach for Hall.
Garry positioned himelf under a tipped ball, shrugged off two tackles, and scampered 80 yards for a score.
“I wasn’t the intended receiver. It was Alex Jamele who was the intended receiver,” Garry said. “I just was shocked that it came to me. I said, ‘Alright. Let’s make a play.’ I ran down the field and flipped a few tackles and that was about it.”
With the victory, Southington improved to 7-0 with three games remaining. They’ll try to keep the momentum going this week at Simsbury (5-2). The Trojans are coming off of a 21-12 victory over Newington.
“Simsbury is the type of team that runs that option really well,” said Drury. “They’ve been doing it for a long time. We’ve just got to play really disciplined football defensively. They’re big up front, and they’re strong. We’ve just got to win that battle up front.”
Kickoff is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m.
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer John Goralski, email him at jgoralski@ southingtonobserver.com.