Leslie leads Ellington-Somers in the air, on the ground

STAFFORD SPRINGS  — Ellington-Somers took care of business on opening night, routing Stafford-East Windsor 40-14, thanks in large part to the all-around offensive prowess of quarterback Joe Leslie.

“Joe is a triple threat,” Knights head coach Sean Byrne said. “He can run he can throw, he can kick if he has to. He also can return kicks.”

Though he was not asked to kick or return kicks, he was asked to make split second decisions with a triple-option offense. And his decision making generated six touchdowns for the Knights, including two through the air and one on the ground.

After a deadlocked first quarter and back and forth start to the second, Ellington-Somers appeared to pick up steam when Mark Hickman caught a 20-yard pass from Leslie to put the Knights ahead 16-6.

Using a ball-control offense that held a stranglehold on time of possession, the Knights gained first down after first down, keeping their defense well rested on the sidelines.

“The first downs were huge,” Byrne said after his first win with the Knights. “We try to be explosive but we want to move the ball and control the clock. The triple option is tough but [Leslie] did a great job.”

The Knights added another score following a Christian Schneider interception, this one a 45-yard touchdown pass caught by Shane McGowan, and went into the locker room with even more momentum after Benjamin Bahler picked off the Bulldogs to end a scoring threat.

“I think a lot of it is frustrating, and it’s inexperience,” Stafford-East Windsor head coach Paul Schmutz said. “We made mistakes, missed blocks, but it’s a learning experience.  I was not displeased with the way the kids played, they played their hearts out. We do not have a lot of depth.”

In the third quarter it was more of the same, as the Knights defense held strong on a 4th down deep in their own territory, and turned around to march down the field for a Leslie touchdown run.

“At the end of the first quarter toward the beginning of the second we started to score,” Leslie said. “We wanted to win big not win small.”

Another pick by Ellington-Somers, this one by McGowan, led to the second rushing score for Hickman. The first came in the opening quarter, a 13-yard run that started the scoring.

Now leading 34-6, the Knights put up six more when Tyreik Noel broke through for a 30 yard scamper with under six minutes remaining in the fourth.

The Bulldogs responded with poise however, with two big completions from Kyle Mathieu to Connor Hutchins helping the squad post eight points. The two connected for Stafford-East Windsor’s first touchdown in the first.

Making big plays defensively for the Knights were Benjamin Bahler, who had an important tackle for loss and an interception, Christian Schneider, who in addition to acting as an option on offense had an interception on defense, McGowan, who had an interception and Noel who posted a sack.

All photos by Erika Studer

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