SIMSBURY, Nov. 6 – The game had long been decided and there was under a minute left. Hall was driving on Simsbury and had the ball on the Trojan 19-yard line with about 20 seconds left. It was no time to exhale. For defensive coordinator Peter Bourquin, this was another teachable moment.
Defensive back Josh Gowdy batted away a pass on first down. And pressure from Simsbury’s front four including Bill Amarante and Michael Mormile forced a pair of incomplete passes from Hall QB Riley Carroll to end the game.
Simsbury’s Kyle Decker ran for a career-high 181 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries to lead the Trojans to a 40-19 victory over Hall on a chilly Senior Night in the regular season finale at the high school. Kevin Kucinskas ran for 98 yards and a touchdown while James Poggio pulled in a 40-yard TD pass from Decker.
The win keeps Simsbury (7-1, 5-1 CCC Division I) in the hunt for a Class L playoff berth but it also keeps alive Simsbury’s hopes for its first conference championship since 1994. Simsbury travels to Farmington on Friday night but they play for a piece of the CCC Division I title when they tangle with Glastonbury (8-0, 6-0) on Saturday, Nov. 21 on the road.
“This team has some big goals,” Simsbury coach Jeff Osborne said. “They have to stay hungry and keep plugging away.”
It wasn’t the prettiest win for the Trojans but style points don’t count in high school football. Carroll completed 25 of 51 passes for 264 yards, 2 TD passes and one interception. Most were quick, short passes but he did complete some nice passes down the middle of the field. Teammate Jake Rosario rushed for 122 yards on 21 carries.
In the first half, Hall had three drives over 11 plays each and scored a touchdown and two field goals. “Hall is a competitive team. They can score,” Osborne said. “Our kids played hard and they were ready to play.”
The problem was that Hall (1-7, 1-6) couldn’t keep up with Simsbury, which scored three touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 26-13 halftime lead. Simsbury opened the third quarter with a 69-yard scoring drive with a wide open James Poggio collecting a 40-yard TD pass from Decker to open a 33-13 lead.
Hall lost two yards on its first drive and punted. On its next drive, the Warriors had a 10-play drive early in the third quarter but that ended with an interception by Simsbury’s Josh Helmkamp.
With its no huddle offense and Carroll completing 7 of his first 11 passes for 41 yards, Hall ate up four minutes on an 11-play, 55-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead. Carroll found Edgar Hannibal open on a 10-yard scoring strike.
It took Simsbury 59 seconds to respond thanks to a 67-yard run down the sideline from Decker. Kevin Kucinskas scored from the seven. Poggio’s extra point try bounced off the right upright for a 7-6 Hall lead.
Hall ate up the final four minutes of the first half and extended its lead to 10-6 on Steinberg’s 32-yard field goal. Again, Simsbury struck quickly, scoring in about 2:22 on Colby Vanderbeck’s five-yard run to take a 12-10 lead. Decker’s 41-yard pass to Poggio down the middle of the field was the big play. The two-point conversion failed.
Hall drove to the Simsbury 34 before its drive stalled. Simsbury took over and marched 66 yards in less than a minute in a half with Decker scoring from the one for a 19-10 lead with 6:02 left in the second quarter. Connely Cummings had a 37 yard run and Kucinskas added a 23-yard run of his own.
It took Simsbury a little longer to score on its next drive, about 2:30 when Decker scored from the two with 1:59 left in the half for a 26-10 lead. The big plays were consecutive big runs from Decker (17 yards) and Kucinskas (29 yards) to get the ball to the Hall 11.
“We’re better than we were in the beginning,” Osborne said. “We’re better than we were last week. They are continually improving.”
Simsbury showed persistence early in the fourth quarter. A 27-yard run by Vanderbeck and a 13-yard run from Kucinskas gave Simsbury first-and-goal from the Hall 3. But three consecutive penalties pushed the ball back out to the Hall 25. Josh Helmkamp scored on a nice reverse with some good blocking to extend the lead to 40-13.
Simsbury 40, Hall 19
Hall (1-7) 7 6 0 6 – 19
Simsbury (7-1) 6 20 7 7 – 40
H: Edgar Hannibal 10 pass from Riley Carroll (Mike Steinberg kick), 5:12
S: Kevin Kucinskas 7 run (kick fails), 4:05
H: Steinberg 32 FG, 11:55
S: Colby Vanderbeck 3 run (pass fails), 9:27
S: Kyle Decker 1 run (James Poggio kick), 6:02
S: Decker 2 run (Poggio kick), 1:59
H: Steinberg 36 FG, 0:00
S: Poggio 40 pass from Decker (Poggio kick), 9:43
S: Josh Helmkamp 25 run (Poggio kick), 8:19
H: Brendan McGoldrick 11 pass from Carroll (kick blocked), 3:49
RUSHING: Simsbury – Kyle Decker 20-181, Kevin Kucinskas 13-98, Mickey Davis 1-1, Josh Helmkamp 1-25, Colby Vanberbeck 4-33, Connely Cummings 5-54; Hall – Riley Carroll 7-2, Jake Rosario 21-122
PASSING: Decker 2-2-0, 81, Kucinskas 0-1-0; Hall – Carroll 25-51-1, 264
RECEIVING: Simsbury – Poggio 2-81; Hall – Eddie Blaschinski 1-6, Jake Rosario 1-14, Ian Dugger 7-59, Justin Cleaver 6-37, Edgar Hannibal 3-32, Brendan McGoldrick 6-101, Eric Fishman 1-14