GRANBY, Nov. 22 – Granby High sophomore Samuel Attianese has gotten in some snaps at quarterback in practice this fall and a few snaps scattered throughout the season. It wasn’t enough for him to consider himself a quarterback.
Attianese came in at quarterback in Wednesday night’s Thanksgiving Eve game with Canton after starter Jackson Rome got hurt in the first series of the game. Afterwards, Attianese was asked if he had played quarterback before. “Never played before,” he stated.
Attianese fit right in. He scored three touchdowns in relief of Rome to help the Bears come from behind and beat Canton for the third straight year, 19-8, to win the old red milk jug and finish the season with a victory.
“Sam is our do it all guy,” Granby coach Erik Shortell said. “He is our leader on defense. On offense, he plays wing back and slot receiver. He stepped up and clearly got the job done today.”
Attianese scored on a 55-yard run early in the third quarter to give the Bears the lead for good. He scored on a five-yard run, leaping into the air with a second effort, to give Granby a crucial insurance touchdown with 3:32 remaining in the game.
He also ran back a pair of kickoffs 35 yards and seldom left the field.
“I’ve never done the reads before on offense (as the starting quarterback),” Attianese said. “It was tough. You have to do all of the reads to keep the offense (moving correctly) so they kept it simple for me. I had a tough time handling the snaps at first but I got better as the game went along. I was nervous.”
He got help from his teammates, too. The Bears forced three Canton turnovers, recovering three fumbles and sacked Canton QB Dugan Lloyd three times for 18 yards. Granby gave up just 136 yards on offense – 79 yards on the ground and 57 through the air.
Canton (1-9, 0-8 Pequot Uncas) led 8-0 after scoring on their opening drive but they coughed up the ball on their second possession on a pitch that bounced off the hands of Canton running back Carter Gavin. Granby’s Christian Warren recovered on the Canton 20-yard line.
Three plays later, Attianese scored from the one-yard line. Matthew Zyzdorf’s extra point cut the lead to 8-7. The big play on the drive was a 16-yard run up the middle from Granby’s Logan Disabella.
Canton ate up nearly the entire second quarter with a 17-play drive that ended up on the Granby nine-yard line. But the drive stalled when Lloyd lost the ball on a fumble with Granby’s Tim Nolan recovering with 1:19 left in the quarter.
Three turnovers and ten penalties for 95 yards slowed the Warriors throughout the game.
Attianese scored on Granby’s first offensive play of the third quarter, a 55-yard run, that gave the Bears a 13-8 lead. “We called veer right and I saw a big hole on the right side so I just took off,” Attianese said. Added Shortell, “It was an option play and he made the right read.”
Granby (4-6, 4-4 Pequot Uncas) still had a five-point lead in the fourth quarter when Canton began a drive in Granby territory thanks to a 14-yard punt return from Carter Gavin. The drive stalled and Canton turned the ball over on downs.
The Canton defense stiffened and forced Granby to punt with about 4:25 remaining. Granby punter Alex Oliver hit a booming punt into the air that Canton’s Carson Humphrey tried to field but it bounced off his hands and skipped back about 20 yards before Keon Lawrence recovered it on the Canton nine-yard line with 4:19 left in the game.
Two plays later, Attianese scored. He was initially stopped just shy of the goal line but he kept driving and leaped into the air. He was hit but fell forward and crossed the goal line to give the Bears a more comfortable 19-8 lead with 3:32 left in the game.
“This feels really good,” Attianese said. “It is still a big rivalry game and it means a lot to us. It’s a big win.”
“This is a sad loss because in a lot of ways, we played well enough to win,” Canton’s first-year head coach Dante Boffi said. “We’re going to learn from these mistakes. They are all teachable moments. It had nothing to do with our numbers (of players on the team), nothing to do with our conditioning, nothing to do with our desire to out there and compete. Those are three big things we had to work on from last year.”
Boffi is consoled a bit by the fact that only four seniors graduate and the youngsters on this team picked up a great deal of experience this season.
Canton looked their best on the first drive of the game, marching 60 yards in nine plays to score the first touchdown of the game. Carter Gavin scored from the 13-yard line for the score with Humphrey running in the two-point conversion. Lloyd had a nice seven-yard run on a fourth-and-two play on the Granby 29 that kept the drive going.
NOTES: Gavin, who had 38 yards and six carries on Canton’s opening drive of the game, finished with a game-high 66 yards rushing on 16 carries. Attianese led the Bears with 63 yards on 15 carries – most coming on his 55-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. … When Granby hosts this rivalry game, it is played on Thanksgiving Eve under the lights in Granby. When it is hosted in Canton, it is played on Thanksgiving Day since there are no permanent lights installed around the Canton field. … It was a chilly evening in Granby with temperatures in the low 40s and a slight breeze rolling across the field.
Granby 19, Canton 8
Canton (1-9) 8 0 0 0 — 8
Granby (4-6) 0 7 6 6 — 19
C: Carter Gavin 13 run (Carson Humphrey run ), 6:42
G: Sam Attianese 1 run (Matthew Zyzdorf kick), 9:49
G: Attianese 55 run (run fails), 11:34
G: Attianese 5 run (pass fails), 3:32
RUSHING: Canton – Dugan Lloyd 9-minus 3, Carter Gavin 16-66, Braydon Flukiger 3-14, Carson Humphrey 1-2; Granby – Sam Attianese 15-63, Matt Jacobs 4-20, Logan Disabella 3-35, Keon Lawrence 3-32, Jackson Rome 3-minus 2
PASSING: Canton – Dugan Lloyd 6-15-0, 57; Granby – Jackson Rome 3-4-0, 10, Sam Attianese 2-8-1, 24
RECEIVING: Canton – Carter Gavin 2-28, Donovan Mackin 2-12, Colin Mackin 2-17; Granby – Attianese 1-minus 3, Logan Disabella 1-3, Keon Lawrence 1-12, Matt Jacobs 1-12
RETURNS – Kickoffs: Jack Szczpanski (C) 1-23, Carson Humphrey (C) 1-5, Carter Gavin (C) 2-52, Attianese (G) 2-35; Punts: Logan Disabella (G) 1-16, Carter Gavin (C) 1-14
SACKS – Travis Abate (C) 1-4, Granby 86 (G) 2½-18, Ben Kibby (G) ½-8; INTERCEPTIONS: Travis Humphrey (C) 1-10; FUMBLE RECOVERY: Christian Warren (G), Tim Nolan (G), Keon Lawrence (G)