By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Blue Knight football team capped off their divisional play with a 41-17 victory at New Britain on Friday, Oct. 28. The win marked the sixth time this season the Knights scored a total of over 40 points, but it was closer than the score might suggest.
The Golden Hurricane defense kept the Knight offense off the field for most of the first half, forcing Southington to punt the ball four times. It took a late surge to put the game out of reach.
Both teams were scoreless in the third quarter, but Southington scored 20 points in the final quarter.
“We thought we left some things on the board in the first half,” the coach said. “But we executed coming out in the second half.”
New Britain capitalized on a Southington punt to take 3-0 lead on their opening drive with a 25-yard field goal. Three plays later, Vance Upham answered with a 54-yard scamper to put Southington up for good, 7-3.
“Richie (Rivera) came across and blocked the backside defense,” said Upham. “It was the perfect hole. I hit it and scored. I give all the credit to him.”
Upham broke the plane again early in the second quarter with a five yard plunge into the end zone. Will Barmore extended Southington’s lead to a three-score game, 21-3, when he connected with Matt Gunderson on a 21-yard touchdown pass with just over a minute to go before the break.
New Britain wasted no time on their next possession, cutting the deficit to 11 with a 55-yard touchdown pass in the final minute of the half.
Nobody would score again until Upham reached the end zone for the third time in the game on a 39-yard run early in the fourth quarter. The Hurricanes returned the ensuing kickoff 72 yards for a score, but Richard Rivera helped cap off the win by hauling in his only two catches of the game—a 19 yard pass from Barmore and an eight yard pass from Anthony Plantamuro
Upham paced the offense with 240 yards rushing on 30 carries, picking up a couple crucial first downs in fourth-and-one situations. Brandon Kohl rushed for 93 yards on nine carries.
“We have to rely heavily on the run game,” said Drury. “The way Vance and Brandon run carried the load tonight, along with the offensive line. They packed the box on us, and we made some adjustments on some of the things were doing. The offensive line played low and physical.”
Barmore completed 16 of 25 passes for 119 yards. Anthony Plantamuro corralled eight passes for 37 yards. Anthony Plantamuro also intercepted a pass and forced a fumble. Gunderson caught a pair of receptions for 25 yards.
The Knights held the Hurricanes to 150 yards passing and 72 yards rushing. Joe Koczera anchored the defense with 11 tackles, including six assists. Upham (10 tackles, 5 assists), Ian Hall (8 tackles, 6 assists), Matt Meade (7 tackles, 4 assists), and Angelo Plantamuro (7 tackles, 5 assists) contributed as well. Tyson Harris (2 tackles, 2 assists) intercepted two passes.
“The unit did a good job flying around, communicating, and making tackles,” said Drury. “When something caught or a run was broken, guys were tackling in open space. That’s huge. You have to be able to do those things against really dynamic athletes here. The quarterback has a great arm and really pushed the ball down the field, but I’m proud of the way our guys played there.”
Southington is currently 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the CCC Division I West, ranked second in Class LL. The Knights will look to remain undefeated this week when they travel to East Hartford (4-3) on Friday, Nov. 4.
“They always play tough,” said Drury. “They came and played us really tough last year. They have a lot of those really good athletes back this year. They have some big, physical, fast kids, but we just have to get ready to have a great week of practice in preparation for them.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.