Knights stumble at Granby

GRANBY – The playoff tight rope that Ellington figured to be walking at this point in the season just got a little more narrow.  And so has the Knights margin for error following a tough 37-20 loss at Granby Friday night in a matchup of unbeaten Pequot Conference teams.
Both teams came in with 5-0 records but it was the Bears that remained perfect after dominating the Knights for much of the second half. At 5-1, Ellington will likely have to win all of its remaining four games in order to keep post-season hopes alive.

Ellington had nearly all of its success in the first half and trailed just 15-14 at halftime. The second half belonged to Granby.

The Bears defense was stout and did not allow Ellington to find the end zone again until late in the fourth quarter. By that time, the Bear’s triple-option offense and the senior quarterback/running back tandem of Dom Pagano and Connor Field had irreparable damage.

Pagano and Field racked up more than 450 combined yards highlighted by an 83-yard Pagano to Field touchdown pass in the first half and an 82-yard run by Field on the very first play of the fourth quarter. Pagano finished with 115 rushing yards on 14 carries and scored three touchdowns. Field who entered the game as the fifth leading rushing in the state had 252 rushing yards on 21 carries and a rushing and receiving touchdown.

“It was like trying to hold back a tidal wave,’’ said Ellington coach Sean Byrne said of the Bears offensive attack.

Granby’s defense also did a good job of limiting the normally prolific Ellington offense throughout the night.

Ellington’s most sustained drive came at the end of the second quarter after Granby had taken a 15-7 lead. Mark Hickman stitched together a couple of solid runs to get the Knights into scoring position. Quarterback Christian Rider (82 rushing yards on 20 carries) punched the ball over the goal line from one yard out. Kicker Jay Skorulski added the extra point to cut the deficit to 15-14 with 1:58 remaining.

Then the second half started and the game turned into a highlight reel for Pagano and Field.

“The first half I think we did a pretty good job of climbing back into it and then it just kind of fell apart on us in the third quarter,’’ said Byrne.

Ellington’s only second half score came on a pass play from Rider to Isaiah Castro-Vega with 3:15 remaining in the fourth quarter. “We thought we had a good look from their defense. They were using a different look that we hadn’t seen,’’ Byrne said. “We moved the ball pretty well at times, but we just couldn’t finish the drives. We will learn from it. That’s all you can do.’’

With a deep Class S playoff field, the loss puts Ellington in a precarious situation in terms of qualifying  for the eight-team field. The Knights have qualified for the post-season in three of the last four seasons, but a tournament berth this year could be in serious jeopardy with another loss. The Knights biggest test will likely come on Nov 13 weeks when they travel to Morgan-Clinton.

“Class S is loaded. We’re not all going to make it,’’ Byrne said. “Any more than one loss and you don’t have your destiny in your hands. If you really want to be in (the playoffs) you gotta run the table and see what happens.’’

The Knights will try to get back on track next Saturday when it hosts Canton at 1 p.m.

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