CANTON, Nov. 24 – There were two young football teams with one victory between them.
The Canton High and Granby High football teams met on Thanksgiving morning and played with passion and enthusiasm that young teams can bring to the field. They also made plenty of mistakes, which made for an entertaining ballgame.
Granby fumbled the ball six times Thursday and lost four of them. Canton turned the ball over three times with interceptions. In the end, Granby Jacob Hauser settled this.
The senior running back ran for a career-high 238 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries to lead the Bears to a 43-20 victory over Canton to win the old red milk jug and end the season with a victory. The Bears had lost eight straight games after winning on opening day back in September.
“He’s been our workhorse all year,” Granby’s first-year coach Erik Shortell said of Hauser. “He’s been an absolute beast running the ball. At defensive end, he one of the top players in the state with sacks (11). Whenever, we had an issue, it was give him the ball.”
The Bears (2-8, 1-3 Pequot West) led 19-0 at halftime but Canton was able to cut the lead to five points with a pair of third quarter touchdowns, 19-14.
After Canton scored their second touchdown, Hauser ran 18 yards. On the next play, he broke two attempted tackles and sailed down the side of the field for a 56-yard touchdown run. Just 49 seconds had run off the clock. Hauser ran in the two-point conversion for a 27-14 Granby lead.
“This is what we had been working for all year,” Shortell said. “We’re young. We have several freshmen out there (including starting QB Jackson Rome and defensive back Samuel Attianese who had two interceptions). We had just two starters back.”
A year ago, Granby had a magical season, going 10-0 to win their first league championship and earning a berth in the Class S state tournament. This season was about learning to play football and gaining experience. “We had a year with some tough losses but we’re getting better and I’m pleased about that,” Shortell said.
Canton (0-10, 0-4 Pequot West) showed some spark but it wasn’t enough to grab a victory. “I was pleased the way we came back,” first-year head coach Mike Guy said. “The scores (we gave up) today were breakdowns on assignments. Just do your job. But kids are kids. If you don’t have the experience of playing, that is what happens.”
It’s been a challenge for the Warriors the past two seasons. They haven’t won a game since playing in the Class S tournament in 2014 when they won the Pequot Uncas Division title. They’ve been undermanned and young.
“They always fought to the end. They may have been tired, hot, dehydrated but they kept fighting to the end,” Guy said.
The Bears led 19-0 at halftime but coughed up the ball on their first offensive play of the half with Canton’s Ryan Delehoy recovering on the Granby 37-yard line. Freshman Carter Gavin picked up a Canton first down with a nine-yard run. Later in the drive, quarterback Alex Higley converted on a third down and one play with a three-yard scamper to keep the drive alive. A few plays later, Higley scored his first touchdown of the season on a one-yard run. A two-point conversion run from Braedon Bean cut the Bear lead to 19-8.
Granby had the ball for two plays before fumbling it away again when Bean recovering this time on the Granby 10-yard line after a bad pitch to the running back.
Two plays later, Braydon Fluckiger scored on an eight-yard run to cut the Granby lead to 19-14 with 5:17 left in the third quarter. The two-point conversion run failed.
Less than a minute later, Hauser’s 56-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion run extended Granby’s lead to 27-14. Teammate Keon Lawrence scored on a 51-yard touchdown pass from Rome and Hauser completed the scoring for the Bears with a 45-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the contest.
Canton’s Jack Szczepanski did score on a seven-yard run with 3:43 remaining as the Warriors scored a season-high 20 points. Higley and Donovan Macklin also recovered fumbles for the Warriors.
Granby took a 7-0 lead with 5:24 gone in the first quarter when Hauser scored on a 10-yard pass from Rome. The big play on the drive was a 31-yard run by Hauser.
The Bears extended the lead to 13-0 with 5:30 left in the second quarter on a 30-yard run by Keon Lawrence. Fluckiger blocked the extra point for Canton.
Granby took a 19-0 lead when Jacob Dunham scored on a 10-yard halfback option pass from Gage Fiorentino with 2:32 left in the second quarter. Again, it Hauser with big runs of 14 and 25 yards that fueled the drive.
Higley led Canton in rushing with a career-high 51 yards on 14 carries. Twice on third down, he rushed for the first down with runs of 10 and three yards, respectively. He also converted on a fourth down run.
Canton’s best drive of the game came in the fourth quarter on a 64-yard, 12 play march that ended with the Szczepanski touchdown. Twice on third down, Higley made big plays to keep the drive alive.
Facing third down and 10, he picked up six yards. Granby was penalized for being offsides on the next play for a first down. Two plays later, Canton was facing a third down and five from the Granby 42. He found Dugan Lloyd for a 15-yard reception and a first down.
NOTES: Hauser finished the season with 1,255 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns. .. Hauser’s 11 sacks is tied for fourth overall in the state according to statistics compiled by Max Preps… Canton has lost 21 consecutive games. … Granby takes a 4-3 lead in the series. … Canton finished with 60 points — the second lowest in the state behind Plainville, which scored just 57. The Warriors allowed a school-record 423 points, breaking the record of 386 set a year ago.
Granby 43, Canton 20
Granby (2-8) 7 12 16 8 — 43
Canton (0-10) 0 0 14 6 – 20
G: Jacob Hauser 10 pass from Jackson Rome (Matthew Zyzdorf kick), 5:24
G: Keon Lawrence 30 run (kick blocked), 5:30
G: Jacob Dunham 10 pass from Gage Fiorentino (kick failed), 2:32
C: Alex Higley 1 run (Braedon Bean run), 7:31
C: Braydon Fluckiger 8 run (run fails), 5:17
G: Hauser 56 run (Hauser run), 4:28
G: Lawrence 51 pass from Rome (Hauser run), 0:50
C: Jack Szczepanski 7 run (run fails), 3:43
G: Hauser 45 run (Hauser run), 1:27
RUSHING: Canton – Alex Higley 14-51, Jack Szczepanski 6-34, Braedon Bean 18-35, Carter Gavin 4-19, Braydon Fluckiger 2-10, Joey Fitzgerald 1-minus 2; Granby – Jacob Hauser 20-238, Jackson Rome 5-41, Keon Lawrence 1-30
PASSING: Canton – Alex Higley 3-18-3, 34, Dugan Lloyd 0-1-0; Granby – Gage Fiorentino 1-1, 10; Jackson Rome 3-7-0, 76
RECEIVING: Canton – Jack Szczepanski 2-19, Dugan Lloyd 1-15; Granby – Jacob Hauser 1-16, Gage Giorentino 1-9, Jacob Dunham 1-10, Keon Lawrence 1-51
RETURNS: Kickoffs – Carter Gavin (C) 3-36, Lexus Torres (C) 1-10, Carson Humphrey (C) 1-0, Keon Lawrence (G) 2-18, Samuel Attianese (G) 1-2; Punts – Gavin (C) 1-1
FUMBLE RECOVERY: Alex Higley (C), Ryan Delehoy (C), Braedon Bean (C), Donovan Macklin (C); INTERCEPTIONS: Samuel Attianese (G) 2-5, Tim Nolan (G) 1-17; SACKS: Ben Kibby (G) 1-5