SOUTHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2009 – It was appropriate that the Simsbury High football team pulled another skeleton from their closet the day before Halloween. Two years ago, Simsbury ended an 11-year winless streak against Bloomfield. A year ago, the Trojans earned their first win over New Britain in 12 years.
On Friday night, Simsbury overcame two early turnovers and two first quarter scores by Southington to put up 22 points in the second quarter and beat the Blue Knights for the time since 1971 with a 29-26 victory that wasn’t decided until the final play.
It was a big win for the Trojans (6-1, 4-1 CCC Division I) especially after a tough 40-25 loss to New Britain the week before when Simsbury gave up 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. “We call this a program victory,” Simsbury coach Jeff Osborne said. “Everyone played well.”
Southington (4-3, 3-3 CCC Div. 1) played with a sense of desperation knowing that a loss would eliminate the Knights from serious CIAC playoff contention.
A week after allowing New Britain quarterback Rafal Garcarz to carve up the Trojan secondary by completing 19 of 26 passes for 244 yards and two touchdown passes, Southington QB Connor Butkiewicz completed seven of his first eight passes for 147 yards and 2 TDs, including a 73-yard TD pass to Anthony Florian that gave Southington a 12-7 first quarter lead.
But the Trojans didn’t panic. They changed their coverage in the secondary and began to apply more pressure on Butkiewicz. Simsbury rarely got a hand on him but Butkiewicz began finding fewer receivers open. And the Simsbury offense gave its defense time to regroup.
After Florian’s 73-yard bomb, Simsbury marched 32 yards into Southington territory. The drive stalled but punter James Poggio had a nice, high punt that was nearly downed inside the five-yard line. Southington was penalized for holding on the return and took over its own one.
On the next play, Simsbury’s Michael Mormile tackled Dylan Danko in end zone for a safety to cut the lead to three, 12-9. On its next possession the Trojans marched 48 yards on eight plays with QB Kyle Decker scoring from the nine for a 16-12 lead.
Simsbury held Southington to five yards on its next possession, forcing a punt. The snap to Southington punter Nick Gothberg was too low. He tried to run but he was tackled for a 13-yard loss. Simsbury took over on the Southington 25 and two plays later, Cummings ran through a big hole and made it untouched on a 23-yard TD run for a 23-12 lead.
“We have the best line in the state,” said Decker, who ran for a team-high 123 yards on 25 carries. “They did just a great job.”
Southington responded with a 24-yard TD pass from Butkiewicz to Michael Rhodd with 1:57 left in the half to cut the lead to three, 23-20. But Simsbury received a 40-yard kickoff return from Vanderbeck and marched 52 yards in less than a minute, scoring on a 4-yard run from Cummings with 54 seconds remaining to take a 29-20 lead. It was the third touchdown of the game from Cummings (21-105).
In the second half, the Simsbury defense bent but did not break. They batted down four passes and received a key interception from Kevin Kuchinskas that stopped a Southington drive to the Simsbury 10-yard line.
Southington cut the lead to three, 29-26, with a third quarter touchdown and was driving to take the lead late in the third quarter. They had first and goal from the 10 but Simsbury’s Andrew O’Connor made a TD-saving tackle on first down, Daniel Hewitt made a big stop on second down for a six-yard loss and Mormile and Poggio batted down passes on third and fourth down, respectively, to end the drive.
With 6:48 left in the game and Simsbury still holding a 29-26 lead, the Knights drove to the Simsbury 10. On fourth down and three, Kuchinskas stepped in front of the receiver for the interception to end the drive.
Simsbury’s offense ate up nearly six minutes marching to the Southington nine before being stopped. The Knights got the ball back with 50 seconds left but ran out of time.
Simsbury hosts Hall in its home finale on Friday before concluding the regular season at Farmington on Friday, Nov. 13 and a challenging Div. 1 finale at Glastonbury on Nov. 21.
NOTES: The two teams combined for four turnovers on the first four possesions of the game. Both team fumbled the ball away twice. Simsbury coughed up one ball at the one, just before Decker crossed into the end zone for an apparent touchdown. … Billy Felice and Kuchinskas each recovered fumbles. … Kuchinskas gained 21 yards after intercepting the ball in the fourth quarter. … Simsbury had lost seven straight to Southington since its last win in 1971, 27-20. The two teams resumed their series in 2004 when the CCC established the CCC North. The series between the two schools dates back to 1920.
Simsbury 29, Southington 22
Simsbury (6-1) 7 22 0 0 – 29
Southington (4-3) 12 8 6 0 – 26
South – Tyler Dube 7 pass from Connor Butkiewicz (kick blocked), 6:38
Sims – Connely Cummings 2 run (James Poggio kick), 1:58
South – Anthony Florian 73 pass from Butkiewicz (pass failed), 1:42
Sims – Safety. Michael Mormile tackles Dylan Danko in end zone, 9:20
Sims – Kyle Decker 9 run (Poggio kick), 6:08
Sims – Cummings 23 run (Poggio kick), 4:03
South – Michael Rhodd 22 pass from Butkiewicz (Dube pass from Butkiewicz), 1:57
Sims – Cummings 4 run (Poggio kick), 0:54
South – Dube 16 pass from Butkiewicz (pass failed), 8:43
RUSHING: Simsbury – Kevin Kucinskas 8-42, Kyle Decker 25-123, Connely Cummings 21-105, Colby Vanderbeck 6-29; Southington – Connor Butkiewicz 1-minus 1; Dylan Danko 15-126
PASSING: Simsbury – Decker 1-4-0, 10; Southington – Butkiewicz 25-38-1, 306
RECEIVING: Simsbury – James Poggio 1-10; Southington – Anthony Florian 5-103, Tyler Dube 10-97, Dylan Danko 5-17, Kyle Lentini 3-40, Michael Rhodd 2-46