SOUTHINGTON >> Through the first three quarters of the annual Apple Valley Classic, it was still anybody’s game to win with host Southington leading by only a touchdown against local rival Cheshire.
But the Rams were plagued by turnovers and they took their toll late in the fourth quarter. The turnovers turned into the Blue Knights final two touchdowns and effectively took the Rams out of any potential comeback opportunity.
Vance Upham ran for 186 yards on 22 carries, including three rushing touchdowns, and he caught a 55-yard touchdown pass from Will Barmore to lead Southington to a 47-20 win over Cheshire at Southington on Thursday.
Barmore completed 15-of-22 passes for 146 yards and threw for three touchdowns.
“We knew it would be a battle today against Cheshire, we have a history of playing tough games,” Upham said. “But this was a team effort on both sides of the ball. Joe Koczera and our entire defense played great and came up with some key turnovers for us.
“This feels great, it’s always great to win, especially on Thanksgiving Day.”
Cheshire was led by Elijah Allston, who had 11 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown and kicker Ethan Bronson kicked 30-yard and 34-yard field goals.
The Blue Knights end the regular season 10-0 and own a 17-12 lead in the series record between the two teams.
Southington had already clinched a spot in the CIAC Class LL playoffs and as a No. 4 seed will host No. 5 NFA in a quarterfinal game Tuesday. The Rams, who needed a win for a chance to qualify for the Class LL playoffs, fall to 6-4.
“The final score might not indicate it but this was a hard-fought football game against a very good team,” Southington coach Mike Drury said. “I’m proud of the way our guys responded throughout the game.
“Momentum is huge in football. At the end of the second quarter and in the second half we wanted to go into attack mode. For us to score a touchdown as the time expired in the second quarter, to regain the lead and to go into the locker room with that momentum, was big for us.”
Cheshire scored on its first possession in the first quarter when Elijah Allston scored on a 2-yard run up the middle with 7:18 to go with Ethan Bronson’s kick giving the Rams a 7-0 lead. The drive was set up when Matt Nugent recovered a Southington fumble on the Southington 40.
Upham answered on a 79-yard touchdown run with 4:16 to go in the first quarter. The kick failed with the Rams still leading 7-6.
The Rams opened the second quarter with a 30-yard field goal by Bronson to give Cheshire a 10-6 lead 3 seconds into the quarter.
Southington took its first lead of the game with 8:10 left in the second quarter. A wide open Upham bolted down the middle of the field and caught a 55-yard touchdown pass from Barmore. Nick Doddona’s kick gave Southington a 13-10 lead.
Cheshire regained the lead when Eric Angelone caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from Jack Raba. Bronson’s kick put the Rams in front 17-13 with 5:36 to go.
On the last possession of the half, Southington drove to the Cheshire 23 yard line with 4 seconds to go. Barmore dropped back, and as time expired in the second quarter, connected with Anthony Plantamuro for a 23-yard touchdown and a Southington 20-17 lead at halftime.
The team’s traded scores in the third quarter. Bronson’s 34-yard field goal tied the game at 20 with 7:11 to go. Upham answered with a 3-yard touchdown run to give the Blue Knights a 27-20 lead with 4:10 to go.
Southington scored on its second possession of the fourth quarter when Barmore found Richard Rivera for a 27-yard touchdown a 34-20 lead with 2:53 to go.
Cheshire was still hopeful to pull off a comeback. But on the ensuing kickoff, Cheshire fumbled and Southington’s Ian Agnew recovered on the Cheshire 32. Four plays later Upham scored on a 1-yard run for a 40-20 Southington lead.
On the ensuing kick, Cheshire fumbled again on the return and Sean Scanlon recovered for Southington on the
Cheshire 48. On the next play, Brandon Kohl bolted up the middle for a 48-yard touchdown to give the Blue Knights a 47-20 lead with 2:01 to go.
“We were able to do some good things today, but you can’t make mistakes against Southington,” Cheshire coach Don Drust said. “We’ve got to fix those mistakes. The mistakes and penalties hurt us.”
Southington 47, Cheshire 20
Cheshire 7 10 3 0 20
Southington 6 14 7 20 47
CH Elijah Allston 2 run (Ethan Bronson kick)
SO Vance Upham 79 run (kick failed)
CH Ethan Bronson 30 FG
SO Vance Upham 55 pass from Will Barmore (Nick Doddona kick)
CH Eric Angelone 22 pass from Jack Raba (Ethan Bronson kick)
SO Anthony Plantamuro 23 pass from Will Barmore (Nick Doddona kick)
CH Ethan Bronson 34 FG
SO Vance Upham 3 run (Nick Doddona kick)
SO Richard Rivera 27 run (Nick Doddona kick)
SO Vance Upham 1 run (kick failed)
SO Brandon Kohl 48 run (Nick Doddona kick)
Team records: Southington 10-0; Cheshire 6-4.