By John Goralski
In less than two minutes, Southington scored. One minute later, they had another chance to put points on the board.
Last fall the Knights needed a miracle catch on the final play of the game to end Manchester’s hopes. This year it was over before it started…and over…and over.
Southington fired four touchdowns in the first half. The defense scrambled for four turnovers in the opening half. The Knights enjoyed a 34-0 lead at the break and cruised to a 41-8 victory.
“We came out with a different mentality,” said Blue Knight receiver Jasen Rose. “It was our first home game, and we wanted to win, especially since we won with a one-second deficit last year. We came out to fight today.”
Stephen Barmore led the way as the senior quarterback completed 21 of his 27 passing attempts for 323 yards in the air with eight Blue Knight receivers catching passes and two finishing over 100 yards. Barmore connected with Alex Jamele on the first drive for a 31 yard score.
He connected four times with Rose for touchdowns of 8 yards, 66 yards, 15 yards, and 40 yards. Jamele finished with 7 catches for 188 yards. Rose caught eight passes for 101 yards.
Southington relied on their running attack for a victory over Glastonbury in week one, but the Knights took to the air in week two. Tyler Hyde led all rushers with 12 carries for 60 yards, but it was the passing game that pushed the Knights to their second straight win.
“Stephen throws a great ball, but the line gave him time to get open,” said Jamele. “I think we had something to prove after the last two times that we played Manchester. There’s been all this talk about how they should have won every year, but I think we made a statement tonight.”
Southington dominated both sides of the ball. Zach Jamele recovered his first of two fumbles on Manchester’s opening drive. Zach Maxwell pick-pocketed a ball carrier in the final minutes of the opening quarter, and Zach Jamele opened the second quarter with a fumble recovery with a 22-yard touchdown return to give Southington a 21-0 lead.
Matt Thomson and Zach Jamele led the assault with five tackles apiece. Steven Hamel (fumble recovery) and Alex Jamele (interception) scored four tackles apiece, and Maxwell finished with two of the team’s four sacks. Manchester scored a 55-yard run with five minutes to go, but Southington’s starters held the Indians to just 157 yards before they emptied the bench.
“The defense is just a constant thing,” said Barmore. “You can expect them to come out every night and do just a fantastic job, and they did that again tonight. It was a varsity shutout tonight, and you really couldn’t ask for anything more. We had five turnovers, and that’s just ridiculous.”
Drury credited the passing struggles in week one to opening round jitters. Southington returned just one receiver from last year’s team, and it took the struggles in the Glastonbury victory to prepare them for the varsity field. That could spell trouble for future opponents as the Knights begin to mix the ground assault with the passing game for a more balanced attack.
“We need to run the ball and throw the ball. That’s our priority,” he said. “We know that we can’t be one-dimensional. I think that the running game did a good job up front. The offensive line did a good job making holes. We had a couple of things called back, but we’re looking to clean that up this week.”
Now, the Knights will try to protect their 2-0 record as they host Simsbury’s triple-option running attack. The Trojans (1-1) are coming off a 23-20 win over East Hartford that was won with a 16-point comeback in the fourth quarter. Drury said that his team will be ready.
“Defensively, it’s going to be a ton of discipline preached this week,” said the coach. “They have a really good ground attack, so we have to be ready. Our offense needs to sustain drives, put points on the board, and we’ll come out with a victory.”
Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Fontana Field.
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By John Goralski