FOOTBALL: Dominant running game propels Maloney past Conard

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MERIDEN — Maloney played its first CIAC-sanctioned football contest at Falcon Field since 2019 and returned to town with a dominant performance on Friday night.

Senior running back Kenny McMillan scored three touchdowns as the Spartans topped Central Connecticut Conference foe Conard, 33-14.

McMillan (17 carries, 69 yards) had TD runs of 3, 1 and 6 yards.

Josh Boganski (10 carries, 56 yards) added a scoring jaunt of 18 yards as the Spartans ran all over the Chieftains, especially in the second half.

“After that Southington game we knew we could beat them and we knew we had to push ourselves to go harder,” McMillan said, referring to Maloney’s 13-7 loss on opening night in Southington. “This is a big win for us and now off to next week.”

The Spartans led 12-7 at the half. In the second half, 20 of their 24 plays were on the ground.

Maloney had a pair of TDs in the first quarter and another in the second quarter. McMillan’s 4-yard run with 1:26 to go in the first quarter put the Spartans on the board.

Maloney, though, trailed 7-6. The Spartans took their first lead 8:45 before halftime when Ian Graham grabbed a 20-yard TD pass from quarterback Spencer Studley (8-for-17, 109 yards.

Maloney missed on the two-point conversion, but led 12-7 Maloney edge.

Graham (3 catches, 71 yards) also had a 31-yard reception that set up Maloney’s first score.

Studley, meanwhile, was pushed into duty for incumbent Angel Arce.

Arce, also a senior, completed 18 of 33 passes for 178 yards in a 13-7 loss against Southington in Week 1. He was unable to play this Friday due to the effects of a concussion. Arce said before the game he hopes to be cleared for next week.

Maloney was also without starting linebacker and captain Michael Reddick, who sustained an injury during the week.

It was the Chieftains who drew first blood in the opening quarter. The combination of QB Israel Lopez and WR Jack Kennedy connected for an 18-yard score with 2:50 to go in the first quarter.

That same duo connected for the game-winning touchdown in a 41-35 overtime win at home against Glastonbury in Week 1.

Lopez found Kennedy this Friday after Maloney punter Rafael Rodriguez muffed the snap and was taken down at his own 18.

Rodriguez had an eventful first half. He also blocked a punt by Kennedy punt in the second quarter.

The blocked kick bounced back to Kennedy and, on fourth-and-19, he picked up exactly 19 yards for the first down. However, the Maloney offense stalled the visitors from getting any further.

Also in the first half, Kuron Wiggins had an interception to stall Conard’s frist drive.

The second half started with another Conard turnover. The Chieftains muffed the opening kickoff and it was recovered at the 30 by Daejon Nixon. 

Maloney cashed in quick on five plays. Boganski carried the load with the last four carries, capping the drive with an 18-yard run with 9:42 left in the third quarter.

Boganski then plunged into the end zone with the two-point conversion as Maloney went up 20-7.

Conard countered that with a 15-play drive. The Chieftains were facing a fourth-and-1 at the Maloney 5. However, a holding penalty sent up fourth-and-12 and the Maloney defense held to keep Conard off the board.

Conard did score on its next possession, with Lopez rushing up the middle from 11 yards out. William Tousignant’s extra point closed the score to 20-14 with 10:55 left on the clock.

After the teams exchanged punts, Conard had the ball with a chance to go ahead, but the Maloney’s defense held the visitors to a 3-and-out.

McMillan, who was also playing middle linebacker, sealed the game with a 6-yard TD run with 4:50 to go. Josh Scaramuzzo put through the PAT as Maloney went on top 27-14.

“I saw the scoreboard and I’m a senior and this is my last year and I have to do what I have to do,” McMillan said. “It felt great tonight.”

Wiggins collected his second interception of the night with 3:54 left to quell any chance of a Conard comeback.

“We dominated the line of scrimmage in the second half and our offensive line played great — and we were without one of our top offensive lineman tonight Mike Reddick,” Maloney coach Kevin Frederick said. “We got it done. We have guys who love each other and buy into the process playing championship football and he got it done.” 

Frederick credited his offensive line for the dominant performance, in particular senior Travis Wright and junior Howard Stedford.

Maloney hosts Simsbury next Friday at 6:30 p.m.

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