By SPENCER DREHER
Southington football improved to 5-1 on the season with a 41-7 win over East Hartford last Friday. With their one loss coming to Darien, the Blue Knights began the season 5-0 in CCC play for the sixth straight year. Their last loss in the regular season to a conference opponent was an overtime loss to South Windsor in November 2017.
Like in the game against Manchester, it was still a close affair after the first quarter but Southington would pull away before halftime. Here is how it happened:
Southington took their opening drive inside the red zone, but a fumbled hand-off ended up in the hands of East Hartford’s Malik Bennett. It was one of three turnovers on the day for the Knights.
However, Southington’s defense responded on the ensuing drive, as their defensive line did not allow quarterback Darrion Williams any time in the pocket.
The Knights sacked Williams twice in a row on that drive, the second which produced a fumble, which Billy Carr picked up in the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
“That defensive performance was huge,” coach Mike Drury said. “Especially early on, we were able to make some negative plays and cause some turnovers. That gave our offense the ball in really good field position, and that is the key. It creates a lot of opportunities when your defense plays like that.”
The Knights offense received really good field position on their next drive after the defense forced another turnover. They capped that drive with a two-yard touchdown pass from Brady Lafferty to Shane Laporte. They would score once more before the half for a 21-0 halftime lead.
Lafferty would go on to throw for five touchdowns on the day. While he did have one interception, he completed 13 of 16 pass attempts for 159 yards. It was especially a big time for Lafferty to step up with starting running back Dillon Kohl out due to injury.
“It was important for Brady to play the way he did,” Drury said. “He came in the second quarter and really executed the offense. He delivered the football on time and let our guys make plays.”
Lafferty threw two touchdowns to Josh Vitti, as well as one to Carter Uhlman. Vitti finished with five catches for 59 yards while Uhlman caught seven passes for 66 yards. Jake Delmonte, a senior, also caught a 45-yard touchdown from Lafferty, giving him his first career touchdown.
MJ Bennett did a fine job in place for Kohl, carrying the ball 15 times for 82 yards.
On the defensive side, Carr, Ryan Walsh, and Mex Casella each recorded six solo tackles, while Carr and Casella each had 1.5 tackles for loss. Casella also had a sack and a fumble recovery while Walsh also had a sack.
The Knights had eight total sacks, with Jacob Vecchio leading the way with 2.5. Riley Clingan had two while Jack McManus had 1.5. The Knights also recovered five fumbles, with Carr recovering two. McManus and Sam Bouchard also each had a fumble recovery.
East Hartford’s only score came on the opening drive of the second half, with Bennett capping off a two-play drive with a 43-yard rushing touchdown. Bennett finished the day with 15 carries for 117 yards.
Up next: Southington will host Simsbury tonight in a Division I-West showdown. Entering this week, Southington was ninth in the Hartford Courant’s state rankings and Simsbury was tenth. The Knights will try to hand the Trojans their first loss of the season.
“Simsbury is having a great year and they are well-coached,” Drury said. “They have a lot of guys returning from last year and they play tough football. We’re going to have to have a good week of practice if we want to execute against them.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Spencer Dreher, email him at SDreher@SouthingtonObserver.com.