Tomahawks Title Hopes Evaporate in Rain Against Southington

SOUTHINGTON-Entering Saturday afternoon’s Class LL-Large semifinal game, Glastonbury football coach Scott Daniels was focused on slowing down No. 1 Southington’s outstanding passing attack. While the Tomahawks defended the pass somewhat well, it was a different story on the ground.

Fourth-seeded Glastonbury allowed five rushing touchdowns, including three by Vance Upham, in a 42-14 loss in front of a wet and chilly Fontana Field crowd.

After the Tomahawks cut their deficit to 21-14 with just under four minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Blue Knights scored touchdowns on their following three possessions to seal the win. Southington improves to 11-0 and advances to the title game against Norwich Free Academy, while Glastonbury finishes 8-3.

The Tomahawks played well early in the game. Linebacker Jhaaron Wallace recovered a fumble at Southington’s 45 a minute in, and a few successful runs set up a 22-yard touchdown run by quarterback Keyion Dixon (23-89) with 7:30 remaining in the quarter. Dixon broke a series of tackles along the right sideline before bursting into the end zone.

Glastonbury forced Jasen Rose to throw two red zone incompletions on Southington’s second drive to maintain its 7-0 lead.  It also silenced Southington’s passing game on its following drive.

A Tomahawks turnover helped set up the Blue Knights first touchdown. With 2:13 remaining in the first, Connor Cruise dropped a punt that was recovered by Jacob Testa at the 8, the first of four Glastonbury TO’s. On the quarter’s final play, Rose fired a pass to Matt Maxwell in the back of the end zone to tie the game.

Glastonbury again committed a fumble on its next drive, leading to a second Southington touchdown. A booming hit by Logan LaRosa caused Donevin O’Reilly (14-66) to fumble at the Glastonbury 24. Rose found Maxwell on fourth-and-5 for 10 yards, and Alessio Diana ran up the middle for a touchdown on the following play to put Southington up 14-7 with 9:45 remaining in the half.

“Turnovers are momentum killers,” Daniels said. “When we turn the ball over, we can’t let a team take advantage. We can’t afford to play like that against a team like Southington. They will take advantage of every opportunity. That’s what good teams do.”

Neither squad scored again in the first half. An apparent 53-yard TD run by Dixon was erased due to a holding penalty.

A 5-yard touchdown run by Upham gave the Blue Knights a 21-7 lead early in the third quarter. The score was set up by 34-yard pass to Austin Morin and a 19-yard toss to Upham.

The Tomahawks rebounded from a Dixon interception to score late in the third. Punter Nick Cardozo fumbled a snap, giving them the ball at the 9. On third and goal from the 8 Dixon executed the zone read option to perfection, catching the defense completely off guard before waltzing his way into the end zone with 3:56 remaining.

Unfortunately, Glastonbury struggled on both sides of the ball for the remainder of the game. Upham ran for an 8-yard touchdown with 2:28 left in the third to make it 28-14, and Rose gave his team a 35-14 lead 5:20 into the fourth when he ran it in on a zone read. Upham concluded the scoring with 4:50 remaining on a 9-yard run.

As the game went on, Southington’s run game became more and more effective. The Blue Knights offensive line blocked well and Upham and Diana pounded the ball up the middle, clearly wearing out Glastonbury.

“You’ve got to pick your poison with a team like Southington,” Daniels said. “They control the ball, and loaded the box today. They’re a good team. What do you want me to say?”

After their opening touchdown, the Tomahawks struggled to generate big rushing plays.  Dixon and Reilly were frequently unable to find holes, and Southington did a good job of tackling. Glastonbury rushed for 148 yards on 38 attempts.

Dixon had a game to forget throwing the ball. He failed to complete any of his six passing attempts and threw two interceptions. Dixon was heavily pressured and had trouble handling the football in the rain.

“We had some offense going in the first couple series, but their defense is fast and has good open space tacklers,” Daniels said. “Keyion was able to break a couple big ones, but they got to the ball.”

While Daniels was disappointed by the loss, he was extremely proud of Glastonbury’s season.

“If you told us we would be here today after starting 0-2 and with the road ahead of us, I would have thought it was a big stretch. We beat some really good teams like NFA, New Britain, and Windsor. Our kids don’t give up. They come ready and play hard.”

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