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Another heart-breaking loss for Simsbury against East Hartford

Simsbury’s Jacob Isabel (5) tries to find a place to run in Thursday night’s game in East Hartford. More game photos

EAST HARTFORD, Nov. 10, 2022 – With the Simsbury High football team holding a four-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, East Hartford was facing a third down and four on their own 13-yard line.

Hornets QB Drayvn Roberts found receiver Kamari Hayes with a short 10-yard pass over the middle. Hayes caught the ball in a crowd of three Simsbury defenders, shrugged off an attempted tackle and took off, literally.

Hayes got into open space and sped away with sprinter-like speed for an 87-yard touchdown reception that put East Hartford ahead for good and boosted the Hornets to a 26-24 victory over Simsbury Thursday night in a CCC Tier 1 contest.

Simsbury had two additional opportunities in the game and drove into Hornet territory each time. But they couldn’t find a way to regain the lead.

While East Hartford (2-7) celebrated their second win of the season, the Trojans (3-6) were quiet as they pondered a second straight loss in the final minutes of a game. A week earlier, a fourth quarter turnover gave Newington the chance that they took advantage of to beat Simsbury, 25-28.

“It’s the second game in two weeks that we’ve had failures to execute in the right moments,” Simsbury High coach Dave Masters said. “We all need to worry about our approach. How to be prepare or what are we doing to prepare for the big moments or moments when we are called to do the most important stuff.”

While the Hornets made a big play in the fourth quarter, the seeds for this were planted throughout the game.

“We have to get (our defense) off the field on third and fourth down and that has been an epic problem (for us) all year,” he said. “We haven’t had that issue (in previous years) but it’s been our Achilles heel this year for sure.”

East Hartford converted twice on fourth down with runs of 37 and 24 yards to keep their opening drive of the game alive. The Hornets finished that drive with a one-yard touchdown run for an early 6-0 lead.

It was also a game of big plays. The Trojans had six pass plays of 20 yards or more while the Hornets had four. The Hornets had a 66-yard kickoff return.

Simsbury QB Patrick Matyczyk threw for a school-record 349 yards and 3 TDs in Thursday night’s game against East Hartford. More game photos

Simsbury’s young sophomore quarterback Patrick Matyczyk threw for a school-record 349 yards and three touchdowns in just his second varsity start. He completed 17-of-30 passes with one interception. Receiver Austin Coiro became just the second Simsbury receiver with more than 200 yards receiving in a single game, pulling in eight passes for 237 yards, just five yards shy of the school record set in 1968 by John Coleman against Avon.

On the other side of the field, East Hartford QB Drayvn Roberts completed 7-of-15 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns.

“We started the season with 128 players and we’re down to what you saw over there. We have nine seniors,” East Hartford coach Rick Milton said. “We have a lot of youth and we have a lot of talent, so we’ve grown each and every game in every aspect of the game.”

This rivalry, which dates back to 1910, has become very competitive with six of the last seven games between the two teams decided by three points or less.

East Hartford took a two-point lead, 26-24, on Robert’s 87-yard touchdown pass to Hayes with 5:45 remaining in the game. The Hornets tried for the two-point conversion to extend their lead to four but Simsbury’s Garrett Dagenais batted down the pass.

Simsbury drove to the East Hartford 29-yard-line but the drive stalled and the Trojans turned the ball over on downs with 3:33 remaining.

The Trojans forced an East Hartford punt and took over on their own 28-yard line with 1:22 remaining. Matyczyk completed a 14-yard pass to Coiro to get the drive going. Two plays later, a 15-yard facemask call on a tackle of Matyczyk put the ball on the East Hartford 48-yard line with 51 seconds left.

On third down and four from the 43-yard line, East Hartford’s Yaxier Rivera caught Noble Gongon in the backfield for a two-yard loss on a pass reception with 23 seconds remaining. Simsbury’s fourth down pass fell incomplete.

“We just made an adjustment and if his guy is in motion that he goes with him,” Milton said. “The first time he didn’t (do that). The second time he did. When you do what you’re supposed to do, good things happen.”

East Hartford’s sophomore QB Drayvn Roberts (1) is brought down in Thursday night’s win over Simsbury.

After East Hartford scored on their opening drive, Simsbury responded quickly, marching 65 yards on five plays in just 1:41 to take the lead on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Matyczyk to Coiro and the extra point from Daniel Sullivan. The big play was a 45-yard pass reception from Matyczyk to Coiro.

A 66-yard kickoff return from Saquan Rosa-Felton set up the Hornets, who took the 14-7 lead thanks to a six-yard TD reception from Roberts to Hayes and a two-point run by Roberts.

In the second quarter, Simsbury responded when Matyczyk found Coiro on a short pass over the middle but Coiro broke through the line and raced away for a 74-yard TD reception. Sullivan’s extra point made it 14-14.

Simsbury took a 17-14 lead at the half on a 24-yard field goal from Sullivan. The Trojans marched 80 yards on 13 plays in 3:45 to take the lead.

The Trojans extended their lead to 24-14 on a 61-yard touchdown pass to Coiro from Matyczyk with 7:54 remaining in the third quarter.

East Hartford closed the gap to 24-20 on a 12-yard TD reception from Roberts to Hayes with 10:21 left in the game. The Hornets converted twice on fourth down on the scoring drive.

NOTES — Roberts is no stranger to pressure situations. His pin as a freshman in the Class LL wrestling finals at 160 pounds last February enabled East Hartford to finish tied with Danbury and win their first-ever state championship in the sport. The Hornets needed the six points to tie and secure a piece of the state title. … Simsbury beat the Hornets last year, 17-14, but East Hartford prevailed 28-27 in 2019, 30-28 in 2018 and 13-12 in 2017. … Matyczyk broke the school record for passing yards in a game that was held by Jackson Masters, who passed for 331 yards against South Windsor in 2017.

East Hartford 26, Simsbury 24
At East Hartford
Simsbury (3-6)                     7  10  7    0   — 24
East Hartford (2-7)            14    0  0  12  — 26
First quarter
EH: Dallas Cruz 1 run (kick fails), 6:05
S: Mitch Wallman 9 pass from Patrick Matyczyk (Daniel Sullivan kick), 4:24
EH: Kamari Hayes 11 pass from Drayvn Roberts (Roberts run), 1:44
Second quarter
S: Austin Coiro 74 pass from Matyczyk (Sullivan kick), 7:59
S: Sullivan 24 FG, 0:21
Third quarter
S: Coiro 61 pass from Matczyk (Sullivan kick), 7:54
Fourth quarter
EH: Hayes 12 pass from Roberts (kick fails), 10:21
EH: Hayes 87 pass from Roberts (pass fails), 5:45
Individual statistics
RUSHING: Simsbury – Travis Bologense 7-39, Noble Gongon 6-30, Jacob Isabel 9-26, Austin Coiro 2-5, Patrick Matyczyk 2-minus 14, East Hartford – Drayvn Roberts 17-75, Darrol Young 2-3, Dallas West 6-17, Kamari Hayes 5-61
PASSING: Simsbury – Patrick Matyczyk 17-30-1, 349; East Hartford – Drayvn Roberts 7-15-0, 224
RECEIVING: Simsbury – Austin Coiro 8-237, Mitch Wallman 2-35, Noble Gongon 5-41, Daniel Sullivan 2-26; East Hartford – Kamari Hayes 4-134, Johnny Moran 1-9, Saquan Rosa-Felton 1-45, Dallas West 1-36
Kickoff returns – Rosa Felton (EH) 1-66, West (EH) 1-17, Gongon (S) 1-20; INTERCEPTION: Darrol Young (EH) 1-0

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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