By BRIAN JENNINGS
Hartford players were backed up to their 20-year line when the Blue Knight defense poured into the backfield. The Bulkeley co-op quarterback looked downfield, but nothing was open. He looked to his left and saw his running back parallel to him as an outlet.
The football caught a sudden gust of wind and ricocheted off the receiver’s hands an into the end zone.
The whistle never blew, and players began to scramble for the loose ball. A safety would have only cost Hartford two points. Matt Cianciolo’s fumble recovery cost them seven.
“At first, I saw it go over his head,” said Cianciolo. “The kid started running back, so I turned around and saw the ball in the end zone. Everyone was trying to get towards that ball. I was trying to get there, and I knew everyone else was trying to get there. Then the kid tried to block me, and get me off the ball. I knew that was going to be a touchdown if I got it, and I did.”
Cianciolo’s fumble recovery for a touchdown late in the second quarter helped the Knights pitch their second shutout of the season in a 48-0 triumph over Bulkeley-Hartford Magnet-Weaver (0-9) at Bulkeley High School in Hartford on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 14.
Southington’s stingy defense held the co-op team to minus 47 yards rushing on 27 attempts and only 11 yards passing on 10 attempts, including four takeaways.
Cianciolo finished the game with five tackles, two fumble recoveries, and a forced fumble. Vance Upham finished with 10 tackles, four assists, and a fumble recovery that was returned 22 yards for a touchdown early in the first quarter.
Pierce Martin also recovered a fumble, and had seven tackles and four assists as well. Ryan Montalvo led the defense with 12 tackles and eight assists. He now has 82 tackles and 43 assists on the season.
Although the wind was gusting around 20 miles per hour, that didn’t stop Southington coach Mike Drury and his coaching staff from airing it out throughout the game. Jasen Rose completed eleven passes on 22 throws for 166 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception (third on season).
“It was definitely a factor, but we still tried to attack through the air a little bit,” said Drury. “It impacts you, in terms of some of the plays you can’t get going because of where you are on the field and the direction that wind is swirling around in. It definitely does play a factor, but we’re confident that Jay can still throw in this weather.”
Austin Morin caught all four of Rose’s touchdown passes (long of 39 yards), totaling six catches for 114 yards.
Alessio Diana rushed for 89 yards on eight carries, including a 14-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Upham rushed for 55 yards on nine carries.
The win moved the Knights to 9-0 on the season, still ranked second in Class LL behind Shelton (9-0). Southington will play their last regular season game at Cheshire (4-5, ranked 20th in Class LL) in the Apple Valley Classic on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 26. The series is currently tied, 9-9, dating back to 1996. The Knights have won the last three contests, including a 44-7 victory in last year’s game.
“It’s a great rivalry against two teams and two towns that really value their football in the tradition that it has,” the Southington coach said. “It’s going to be a battle. It always is. We’re going to their place, and we’re really looking forward to starting the preparation process, building up to get ourselves fully prepared for that game.”
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.
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