SOUTHINGTON — The defense was dominant and junior quarterback Brady Lafferty tossed five touchdown passes as the Southington football team stormed to a 41-7 CCC Division I crossover win over East Hartford at Fontana Field on Friday afternoon.
The defense set the tone by scoring the first touchdown of the day when linebacker Billy Carr recovered a fumble in the end zone with 3:50 left in the first quarter.
Lafferty took it from there, throwing scoring strikes to four different receivers: Shane LaPorte, Jake DelMonte, Carter Uhlman and Josh Vitti (twice).
Southington continued its dominance on defense throughout in approving to 5-1 and keeping East Hartford winless at 0-6. In the first quarter, the Blue Knights outgained East Hartford 44 yards to negative-31. By half, the margin was 135-21. By game’s end, it was 277-119.
In all, the Southington defense forced five fumbles and had six sacks.
“The defense has been great all year,” Southington coach Mike Drury said. “We are tackling well and getting in good position and communicating well. Those are things we just want to continue to get better at as the season goes on.”
Lafferty came in to play quarterback in the second quarter and finished 13-for-16 for 159 yards with one interception.
Lafferty started his day by tossing a two-yard TD pass to Shane LaPorte, whom he relieved at QB, with 5:30 left in the second quarter to put the Blue Knights up 14-0.
Following the touchdown, Southington’s defense sent the Hornets backwards on three straight plays. Johnny Carriero had a tackle for loss. Jack McManus and Riley Clingan followed with a sack apiece.
McManus had two sacks in the first half, while senior defensive end Sam Bouchard recovered a fumble in the second quarter.
Late in the first half, with 3:53 on the clock, Lafferty tossed a 45-yard bomb to Jake Delmonte down the left sideline to put Southington up 21-0.
East Hartford’s Malik Bennett started the second half with a 43-yard touchdown run to cut the Southington lead to 21-7.
The Blue Knights responded with Lafferty’s third TD pass of the day. This was an 18-yarder to a wide-open Josh Vitti (5-59 receiving). The touchdown with 8:31 left in the third quarter put the Knights back up by three scores, 28-7.
Jacob Vecchio followed with a strip sack on defense. Carr jumped on the loose ball for his second recovery of the game.
“We didn’t play our best, but we got the job done,” Carr said. “We made a few errors that cost us a touchdown. Offensively, we played well and, defensively, we had a bunch of fumble recoveries. We swarm and want to be hitting guys.”
Carr’s first-quarter touchdown was the first he’s scored in two years.
Lafferty used a short screen pass for his fourth touchdown pass of the contest. It was a five-yarder to Carter Uhlman (6-49) with 34.6 seconds left in the third quarter and it pushed the score to 35.7.
“We came ready to play and it was a good win,” Lafferty said. “It was good throwing to my receivers and my O-Line did a great job.”
Southington’s defense secured its fifth East Hartford fumble of the game when Max Casella jumped on a bad snap. Ryan Walsh added a fourth-quarter sack.
Lafferty capped his day with a 7-yard TD pass to Vitti. It was a shovel pass on first-and-goal.
“He put the ball in some good spots,” Drury said of Lafferty. “He had the one interception where he forced it in. I thought he did a good job.”
Drury has been using both LaPorte and Lafferty at quarterback all season. Two weeks ago, against Manchester, LaPorte started and played the first half. On Friday, LaPorte started again and handled the QB duties for the first quarter.
“Both of them do different things,” Drury said. “As a team, it’s all about playing good football, executing well and staying healthy.”
The Blue Knights weren’t 100 percent in that department Friday. They played without leading rusher Dillon Kohl, who was out with a hand injury. Kohl has a team-high 768 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns on 82 carries.
“It’s nothing serious,” Drury said. “He had a hand thing today and we held him out, but he will be back ready to go next week.”
With Kohl out, M.J. Bennett was the main ballcarrier on Friday. Bennett looked like he was going to score a touchdown on Southington’s first possession, but fumbled at the 1-yard line. In the big picture, the senior was productive with 13 carries for 82 yards.
Jadeen Murrell had an interception for East Hartford.