By John Goralski
For much of the first quarter, it looked like a shootout. The Blue Knight football team took less than two minutes to scramble 63 yards for their first score. Newington countered with a 75-yard drive that took just seven plays. Three plays later, the Knights were scoring again.
On Friday, Nov. 1, both teams led with their offense, so Coach Mike Drury laid down the gauntlet to his Blue Knight defenders.
“They have some weapons,” said Drury. “They have some juniors out there, and their quarterback throws a great ball. We knew right off the bat that we were going to struggle initially. You have to get used to that type of offense. We cleaned up some of our techniques, we cleaned up some of our reads and made sure our guys were in the right areas to be able to defend the ball.”
The defense answered the challenge. Newington was forced to punt after three fruitless attempts. The Indians recovered their own punt, so the Knights stopped them again. Newington opened the game with 106 passing yards in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Southington held them to zero.
The Knights rallied to a 56-7 lead before they unleashed their bench. Southington held on for a 56-20 win, and those stops in the first quarter tipped the scales.
“We needed a big stop, and the guys came through,” said Drury. “Steven Hamel broke through and had a tremendous hit in the backfield, and things like that can change the complexion of the game. It was a great hold, a great stop, and the offense came down and scored.”
The offense never faltered. Stephen Barmore distributed 17 passes to five different receivers for 280 yards and four touchdowns. Jasen Rose (4 catches, 82 yards) caught a touchdown. Kyle Borawski added another, and Alex Jamele (8 catches, 148 yards) scored twice to set a new team record with 17 touchdown receptions this fall.
“It’s nice as a quarterback to have so many weapons and so many different people to spread the ball out to that can all make plays after the catch,” said Barmore. “It’s a luxury, and they make me look good.”
On the ground, Tyler Hyde rushed for 122 yards and two scores. Zach Maxwell (72 yards) scored another. Five ball carriers combined for 239 yards rushing. Kyle Smick converted all eight extra point attempts, and Southington scored seven consecutive times to put the game out of reach.
“Everyone did their jobs tonight,” said Jamele. “We’ve been talking about it all week. We wanted to come out here and dominate, and I think that showed tonight.”
After the first quarter, the Knight defense wouldn’t budge. Zak Jamele led the rush with six tackles. Zach Spooner (5 tackles) caught a batted pass late in the final moments of the opening half. Matt Maxwell had an interception. Chris Kelly returned one for a 35-yard score with five minutes left in the third quarter, and Zach Maxwell and Logan LaPorte recovered fumbles for the Knights.
“We made some adjustments,” said Jamele. “We went into the second quarter knowing we made some mistakes, including me. We fixed those mistakes, and we wanted to come out in the second half even harder, and I think we did. I think we made a statement.”
With the victory, Southington improved to 6-1 on the season with three games remaining. The Knights are currently ranked sixth in the Class LL playoff standings.
The victory also marked the end of Southington’s three-week road trip. The Knights return to Fontana Field on Friday, Nov. 8 to face East Hartford (3-5). The Hornets are coming off of a 15-14 win over New Britain.
“We had three tough ones on the road. Now, it’s time to get back to our house, in front of our crowd and our community,” said Drury. “We’re going to have fun when we go out there on Friday night.”
Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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By John Goralski