WETHERSFIELD — The Southington defense forced four turnovers and stifled the Wethersfield offense all day in a 26-0 CCC crossover blanking at Cottone Field on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Southington’s Zackery Findley rushed for two touchdowns, Andrew Mikosz rushed for one TD and quarterback C.J. DiBenedetto threw an 85-yard bomb to Rashard Williams to provide the scoring.
The Southington defense did the rest as the Blue Knights improved to 2-0 and now gear up for a big Alliance matchup at home on Friday night against Staples.
Against Wethersfield (0-2), Southington led 7-0 at the half in a sloppy opening 24 minutes for both sides.
“It’s a win,” Southington coach Mike Drury said afterward. “We shot ourselves in the foot a lot in the first half. We had some turnovers and we can’t have that. We had penalties, but we have to execute at a higher level in those situations.
“We responded well in the second hafl and everyone did their jobs.”
The lone points of the opening half were a Findley 8-yard TD run at the 10:16 mark of the second quarter. It was the first career varsity touchdown for the junior.
“It was supposed to be outside, but the line pushed the all the way out and it was a free run to the goal line,” Findley recounted. “The feeling was amazing because it was my first. It didn’t feel real at first, but all of the guys were hyping me up and it was awesome.
DiBenedetto had two interceptions in the opening half, one in each quarter. Jacob Yanosy picked off DiBendetto with 3:39 to go in the first quarter with the Knights inside the Wethersfield 10-yard line.
Then a promising Wethersfield drive ended when Eagles QB Camden Righi was picked off in the end zone by Southington’s Aaron Borkowski. Righi was also intercepted by Meikhi Batchelor in the scoreless first quarter.
In the closing minute of the second quarter, DiBenedetto was picked off by Wethersfield lineman Manuelle Marrero. The Eagles set up shop at the Southington 22, but the hosts were hurt by penalties. Dhallas Morgan had a 22-yard TD run called back by a holding penalty and two other penalties put the Eagles back into their own territory before taking a knee to end the half.
Williams had Southington’s third interception early in the third quarter. That set up Southington’s best drive of the day: an 11-play march that featured six passes and five runs. Mikosz capped it with a 4-yard TD run as Southington expanded its lead to 13-0.
Borkowski had a sack to set up the next Southington drive, which culminated in Findley’s 1-yard TD plunge with 8:54 to go in the fourth quarter.
The Knights were up 20-0 and they protected that lead by stoning Wethersfield from the 1-yard line on third and fourth downs to keep the Eagles off the board with six minutes left in the game.
Righi was injured on the 3rd-and-1 play and didn’t return.
Drury said the entire front seven excelled containing the Wethersfield offense.
“The defense played lights out,” Drury said. “They were physical and ran to the football. They had their hands full with their quarterback. He’s a great runner and a big-body kid, and (they have) some dynamic running backs.”
The Blue Knights finished the scoring at 26-0 with DiBenedetto’s 85-yard bomb to Williams with four minutes left.
Appropriately, Gage Patavino jumped on a fumble on the last play to seal it for Southington.
Next up is Staples (1-1). After falling to West Haven 33-23 on opening night, the Wreckers rebounded to wreck Ridgefield 42-3 on Thursday.
“It’s just about getting better and fine-tuning our stuff and executing and making sure when we are down in (the red zone) we are punching it in,” Drury said. “We are going to make sure we make those things right.”
DiBenedetto finished the day 26-for-41 for 330 yards with one touchdown pass and three picks.
He had two receivers over 100 yards in Williams (9 catches, 154 yards, TD) and John Flynn (10-116). Additional good news: injured senior receiver Evan Anderson returned to action.
Williams is off to a monster start of the season after grabbing eight passes for 219 yards in Week 1 against New Britain. DiBenedetto also had his second straight 300-yard performance after he threw for 398 yards and five TDs in Week 1.