By SPENCER DREHER
It was supposed to be the biggest in-conference game of the season for Southington football as they took on Simsbury last Friday at Fontana Field. But it turned into a dominating performance for the Blue Knights (6-1), as they cruised to a 35-7 win to hand the Trojans their first loss of the season.
With the win and Naugatuck’s loss to Torrington, Southington leapfrogged to No. 3 in the LL rankings, behind Newtown and Darien, the latter defeating the Knights earlier this season.
Southington got their running back, Dillon Kohl, back from a one-game absence, but the Knights used their passing attack for the second straight week led by quarterback, Brady Lafferty. Here are the highlights:
Southington struck first and struck quickly as they capped off their opening drive in 1:13 on a touchdown pass from Lafferty to Carter Uhlman. For Uhlmam, it was his third straight game with a touchdown.
Southington’s defense was going to get the ball right back for the offense, but a muffed punt recovered by the Trojans gave them a first down inside the ten-yard line. Simsbury would take advantage with an Aiden Boeshans touchdown run. Because Southington missed the extra point, Simsbury had the lead.
The game turned in Southington’s favor in the second quarter as the Knights’ offense had a 15-play drive that lasted over seven minutes. Kohl had nine carries on the drive alone and picked up a few key first downs. But on fourth and goal from the one, coach Mike Drury brought in linebacker, Billy Carr, to lineup in the backfield. The senior found his way into the endzone for his second touchdown in as many games.
A two-point conversion on a pass from Lafferty to Uhlman made it 14-7.
“That drive was big,” Drury said. “In games like this, you got to score a touchdown on drives like that. When you get those opportunities to cash in. These guys stepped up. One of our defensive players comes in and scores at the goal line. It was a fun game.”
The Knights’ offense kept rolling right before halftime. After Southington’s Donnell Mackey-Woodson intercepted Boeshans, the Knights put themselves close enough to the endzone to try for one last deep pass play before halftime. Lafferty found junior, Jack McManus over the middle and he broke several tackles on his way to the endzone to make it 21-7 at the break.
McManus caught two more touchdowns in the second half on his way to a monster night. He finished with seven catches for 154 yards to go with the three scores. Lafferty completed 16 of 27 passes for 262 yards and four touchdowns, giving him 17 on the season.
Kohl carried the 23 times for 75 yards in his return.
It was another dominating performance on defense for the Knights as they held a Simsbury team that averaged 200 yards rushing per game to under 100 yards. They only allowed six completions by Boeshans all night and it was the third straight game they held the opponent to under 10 points.
Carr led the way with 14 tackles, including 2.5 sacks, three tackles for a loss, and a fumble recovery. Max Casella, Riley Clingan, Johnny Carriero, and Angelo Plantamuro each had a tackle for a loss as well.
“Our guys played really hard tonight,” Drury said. “They played tough, Southington football. I thought we tackled very well. They came in averaging 200 yards rushing and our defense did a good job in stifling that. That was the key, to stop the run versus a running team. And offensively, we were able to get into a rhythm.”
Up next: Southington will be on the road for the first time in over a month as they are at Glastonbury (3-4) tonight at 6:30 p.m. Their last game before their Thanksgiving showdown with Cheshire (6-1) will be next week at home to New Britain (2-5).
The only bad news the Knights received last week was the injury of their wide receiver and backup quarterback, Shane LaPorte.
“It was hard to lose Shane,” Drury said. “He brings a different personnel package to our offense. But he is a huge supporter and he’ll be there for us. Hopefully we can get him back in a couple of weeks.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Spencer Dreher, email him at SDreher@SouthingtonObserver.com.