SIMSBURY, September 7 – A friend of Simsbury High football Dave Masters asked him earlier on Friday how his Trojans would do in their season opening game with West Hartford’s Hall High.
The fourth-year coach smiled but couldn’t really give a prediction. “It’s a box we haven’t opened yet so I really don’t know what we’re going to get,” he said.
Simsbury got some big plays in Friday night’s CCC Division I West contest at Holden Field. Senior Mark Bedson ran for a game-high 165 yards and four touchdowns on 21 carries. He caught a pass for 29 yards and had two sacks for 25 yards.
But Simsbury made too many mistakes. The Trojans turned the ball over four times, gave up a 91-yard kickoff return and a 50-yard touchdown pass on a blown coverage in a 31-26 loss to Hall.
“I told the kids afterwards that you can’t (commit) that many mistakes and expect to win football games,” Masters said. Simsbury quarterback Jackson Butler had two interceptions in his first varsity start and the Trojans fumbled the ball away on a kickoff return and a punt return.
Yet, even with all of those mistakes, the Trojans were within five points after scoring a touchdown with 5:53 left in the fourth quarter. But Hall (1-0) converted twice on third down in the final five minutes to run out the clock and beat Simsbury for the fifth time in the last six years.
“Simsbury is a really good football and that was a great football game,” Hall High coach Frank Robinson III said. “There were so many momentum plays in this game. Credit to (Simsbury). They fought right to the end.”
The action was fast and furious in the first quarter with three touchdowns in less than a minute.
Hall’s Gabriel Salomons intercepted Butler on the third play of the game and six plays later, Hall QB Matthew Keller threw an eight-yard TD pass to Salomons. After Noe Ruelas’ extra point, it was 7-0.
Simsbury responded quickly. On the first play of the drive, Bedson exploded up the middle and ran 57 yards to the Hall 1-yard line. He scored a few seconds later and after Kory Zall’s extra point, it was 7-7. Only 32 seconds had elapsed.
On the ensuing kickoff, Hall’s Yovan Rivera eluded several tackles along the sideline and raced up the field for a 91-yard kickoff return to give the Warriors a 14-7 lead. Rivera returned three kicks for 135 yards.
On Simsbury’s next possession, Hall stopped the Trojans on the Hall 45-yard line. Forced to punt, Simsbury punter Haroon Mohammed got off a beauty that died on the nine-yard line. But Hall was penalized for roughing the center and Simsbury got an automatic field down and their drive remained alive.
Three plays later, Bedson raced up the middle for a 20-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 14-14.
Early in the second quarter, Hall intercepted the ball again and took over on the Simsbury 25-yard line. They scored four plays later on a two-yard run from Nolan Tibball for a 21-14 lead.
Simsbury nearly tied the game in the third quarter. A 19-yard pass on third down from Butler to Aiden Brown kept a scoring drive alive. Bedson scored from the one-yard line to pull the Trojans within a point, 21-20, but Zall’s extra point attempt was too low and was blocked.
Hall responded quickly. Two plays later, Kendall found a wide-open Andrew Skwiet for a 50-yard touchdown bob and the Warriors extended their lead to 28-20 with 1:03 left in the third quarter. A 35-yard field goal from Ruelas extended the lead to 11 points, 31-20.
Bedson scored his fourth TD of the day with 5:53 remaining. The two-point conversion failed as Simsbury cut the lead to five, 31-26. But Hall never gave up the ball again in the contest.
NOTES: Hall has won seven of the last nine games between the two schools and has tied the series at 21-21. The series began in 1974. … Simsbury has lost three of their last four season opening contests. The only win in that span was a 42-7 win over Hall a year ago.
Hall 31, Simsbury 26
Hall (1-0) 14 7 7 3 — 31
Simsbury (0-1) 14 0 6 6 — 26
H: Gabriel Salomon 8 pass from Matthew Keller (Noe Ruelas kick), 7:44
S: Mark Bedson 1 run (Kory Zall kick), 7:12
H: Yovan Rivera 91 kickoff (Ruelas kick), 6:57
S: Bedson 20 run (Zall kick), 1:53
H: Nolan Tibball 4 run (Ruelas kick), 10:17
S: Bedson 1 run (kick fails), 2:12
H: Andrew Skwiot 50 pass from Keller (Ruelas kick), 1:03
H: Ruelas 35 FG, 9:25
S: Bedson 1 run (pass fails), 5:53
RUSHING: Simsbury – Mark Bedson 21-165, Jackson Butler 10-4, Jeffrey Coleman 1-6, Dan Sohn 1-2; Hall – Nolan Tibball 8-26, Matthew Keller 5-minus 21, Leonardo Dionicio 18-32, John McHale 1-3, Yovan Rivera 2-17, Patrick McGann 1-4, Isaiah Lizardi 2-27
PASSING: Simsbury – Jackson Butler 7-19-2, 101; Hall — Matthew Keller 7-14-0, 94
RECEIVING: Simsbury – Colby Chase 2-30, Patrick Shanley 2-12, Mark Bedson 1-29, Aiden Brown 2-30; Hall – John McHale 2-15, Gabriel Salomons 2-17, Leonardo Dionicio 1-4, Nolan Tibball 1-8, Andrew Skwiot 1-50
RETURNS: Kickoffs – Zach Gilbert (S) 2-28, Patrick Shanley (S) 1-6
SACKS: Mark Bedson (S) 2-25; Nolan Tibball (H) 1-12, Pierce Newman (H) 1-13
INTERCEPTIONS: Gabriel Salomons (H) 1-11, Joseph Dowh (H) 1-0
MISSED FG: Zall 32