By BRIAN JENNINGS
Jasen Rose dropped took a second look as his target streaked down the middle of the field, and he launched the ball deep, looking for a big play. Austin Morin looked up at the last minute, cradled the football in his arms, and fell into the end zone in front of two defenders.
Morin’s 84-yard touchdown catch effectively put the game out of reach as the Blue Knights football team (5-0) wasted no time showing why they are one of the best teams in the state. It took just 47 seconds for Rose to score a rushing touchdown, and his completion to Morin with 8:41 remaining in the first quarter gave the Knights a 14-0 lead.
It was far from finished. A six-yard rush by Alessio Diana gave the Knights their third score of the quarter, and Southington broke the 60-point barrier for the second consecutive week as they blasted past Hall, 61-26.
Hall’s first score didn’t come until late in the second quarter with just over five minutes to go before halftime, and Vance Upham scored less than a minute later when he broke open a 27-yard dash down the sidelines to push the Knights’ lead up to 26-7.
Hall hung around for a little though, and would not go away as they closed it to 26-14 with 33.3 seconds left in the half. Once again, the Knights answered back. Rose connected with Morin again with 4.5 seconds remaining, this time a 31-yard touchdown pass, and Southington took a 33-14 lead into the break.
Rose completed 14 of 20 passes on the night, throwing for 360 yards and four touchdowns and running for nine yards and two scores. Upham rushed for 136 yards and a touchdown on seven carries, while Diana rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown on six carries.
Morin caught six passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns, and also rushed for an 80-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Mark Howland caught three passes for 69 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Jake Testa caught two passes with one of them going for a 47-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
The Knights’ defense held Hall to 187 yards rushing and 203 yards passing. Ryan Montalvo led the defense with 12 total tackles, seven assists, a sack, and even batted down a ball at the line of scrimmage.
“Everyone else got me opened up,” said Montalvo. “Logan would come and blitz and take the line with him. I would be able to get through. I think we’re very strong against the run and the pass. We’re just a good defense overall. It was a team effort and we all did great. We just have to pull it together a bit more. We’re going to work really hard in practice this week and get it all together.”
John Meade and Upham both had eight total tackles. Matt Gundersen and Anthony Plantamuro both intercepted a pass. Some analysts and critics might say that the defense has been struggling a bit lately, but Southington coach Mike Drury said that he has faith in his guys.
“They’re going to bounce back,” said Drury. “We have great defensive coaches. We have some high-motor guys, and guys who want to play. We just have to clean up some stuff. It starts with communication, and it starts with doing your assignment right every play. When we start doing that, it’s going to form right together.”
The Knights last loss was to Hall, 49-37, on Oct. 19, 2013, but Southington hasn’t lost a game since, including a pair of state championship wins. Last year, they beat the Warriors, 48-0, and this year’s win over Hall marked 25 consecutive wins for the Knights.
Southington still needs to win five more games to tie the program’s longest winning streak (30) and eight more games without a loss to tie the longest undefeated streak (32-0-1) which was set during a five season span from 1962 to 1966.
“I’m not worried about that stuff,” said Drury. “We’re worried about the performance and how we play. To this team, it’s number five this year, so we’re going to enjoy it and move forward. That’s something we really don’t dwell on. We’re looking to just get better as a team everyday. That’s what we have to do.”
The Knights are still on top of Division I-West and are currently ranked fourth in the CIAC’s Class LL point standings behind Newtown (5-0), Shelton (5-0), and Darien (3-0).
This coming week will be a bye for the Knights, but they will look to continue their perfect streak when they travel to Conard (3-1) for their third straight road game next week on Friday, Oct. 23.
“Conard’s a great football team,” said Drury. “I know that program and the coaches very well. They do a great job. Schematically, they’re very tough. They have great athletes and a strong offensive line. They’re going to be playing hard and will be ready to go.”