Killingly puts on offensive show in 76-27 rout of Waterford
Waterford — Of course, Killingly High School coach Chad Neal picked the few things his team did wrong to harp on Friday night, the Redmen having given up long touchdowns on back-to-back plays by Waterford in the first quarter.
But there wasn't too much else for Neal to be unhappy about.
The Redmen scored every time they had the ball until taking a knee to end the first half and went on to beat Waterford 76-27 in an Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II game which was played with running time in the second half.
Killingly rushed 45 times for 336 yards and eight touchdowns overall and led 69-20 at halftime.
"I thought we did some good things in all three phases: offense, defense and special teams," said Neal, whose team is 5-1 overall, 3-0 in the division and looking for a return trip to the Class M playoffs, where the Redmen were champions a year ago. "We had to do a bunch of different things. ... But we gave up a kick return and a long touchdown pass.
"We work kick coverage every day in practice. That's the thing I'm going to be thinking about."
Waterford, which gave Killingly a short field on which to score several times on turnovers and mishandled punts, trailed 21-0 in the first quarter when it responded with a little razzle-dazzle.
Quarterback Ryan Bakken hit senior receiver Dan Annibalini for a 76-yard touchdown pass down the right side, with Annibalini extending the catch on an elusive run down the sideline with 4 minutes, 17 seconds to play in the quarter to pull within 21-7.
Killingly scored in two plays, getting a 55-yard touchdown pass from Luke Desaulnier to Josh Montpelier to push it back to 28-7, but Waterford's Marquis Smith came right back with an 82-yard kickoff return on the next play to make it 28-14, accounting for the game's third touchdown in a 33-second span.
The Lancers, however, despite making some big plays on offense, couldn't stop the Redmen, falling to 2-4 overall, 1-2 in Division II.
Waterford coach John Strecker called a timeout with 5:51 to play in the half, just after his team had fumbled away a ball on its own 8-yard-line — a Jackson Lopes touchdown on the next play made it 55-14 — to remind the Lancers to forget the scoreboard and keep playing.
"Yeah, at certain points of the game I thought they were losing that, but these guys don't quit," Strecker said. "Sometimes we play sloppy, but they don't quit. It's all about execution. When we execute out offense, we're fine. When we don't, it's tough to recover.
"Our punter's hurt, our long snapper's hurt, we're short at halfback, we're short at cornerback, but they don't get down, these guys."
Bakken finished 10-for-19 for 185 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for Waterford. Bakken connected three straight times with Annabalini, capped by a 26-yard throw caught by Annabalini (5 catches, 153 yards) in the end zone to make it 69-20 with 1:25 remaining in the half.
Killingly, which had its backups in from the second quarter on, scored on its first drive of the second half on a 14-yard run by Mason Smith. Waterford's Marquis Smith then finished the scoring with a 68-yard run with 3:04 to play in the third quarter.
Stories that may interest you
Waterford's Jared Lovell won the Class M state championship in the 55-meter hurdles during the indoor track season. He'll attend Hofstra University in a five-and-a-half-year program after which he will be a physician assistant.
Finn Power, an East Lyme High School senior, began the school year as the two-time defending ECC boys' tennis singles champion. Had there been spring sports, he wouldn't have won a third because he had decided to run track instead.
Fitch senior Graysen Scherer is co-captain of the girls' tennis team and will continue her career next year at Salve Regina in Newport, R.I., where she will major in social work. She is a three-sport athlete and senior class president.