WEST HARTFORD >> It’s been five years since the Conard football team had its hands on West Hartford’s Mayor’s Cup. On Saturday, senior running back Nate Richam made sure it didn’t turn into six.
The work-horse in the Chieftains backfield rushed for 498 yards — the fourth best rushing day in Connecticut history — and five touchdowns as Conard defeated Hall 66-47 at McKee Stadium in the 15th highest scoring game in Connecticut history.
“Today is special,” Richam said. “Today is one of those days you leave it all on the line. You try to do that every day, but you can only say that about Hall. Our line played their asses off, our offense played amazing, our defense played its hearts out and then I trust in them and they trust in me and I got my job done. That’s what it’s all about.”
With the victory Conard finished 8-2 and moved closer to clinching a berth in the Class LL playoffs for the first time since 2010 and the first under coach Matt Cersosimo. Hall’s season ended 5-5.
“We did all we can is win and now we just have to see how it all stacks up once everyone gets done playing on Thanksgiving,” Cersosimo said.
The high-scoring affair was just 7-0 in favor of Hall after the first quarter before Richam got his legs moving.
On Richam’s touchdown runs alone he recorded 297 yards. Only one of them started on the Hall side of the field. His scores went for 87, 69, 71, 11 and 59 yards respectively.
The 11-yard run included a fumble into the end zone that Richam quickly fell on for the score.
Everything was coming up Conard.
But in order to score a record number of points you have to be able to score in all sorts of ways.
Late in the second quarter, Chieftains quarterback Declan Flaherty found Devon Penez down the left sideline for 41 yards to make it a 24-14 lead. Then on their next possession, Jonathan Lagoy caught a Flaherty pass for 50 yards.
“We made some nice throws when we had to,” Cersosimo said. “They were doing a nice job with packing the box with an extra defender and we weren’t able to generate some of the seams that we had for that, so we called on Declan to be a thrower. Johnny Lagoy made some great catches, Devon Penez made some great catches, Jack Ryan made some great catches. So that was all great to see.”
The scoring picked up pace as the game went on.
Hall’s Theo Blaschinski scored on an 11-yard run with 8:02 left in the third, but on Conard’s ensuing possession Richam took the first hand-off of the drive 69 yards nearly untouched.
“We try to talk about being balanced on offense,” Cersosimo said. “So if one thing’s not working, we have to go to the other thing and we hope that that’s going to get us going. Today the pass game really ignited a spark in us and it opened up our run in the second half.”
Blaschinski did his best to keep the Warriors in this one with three touchdowns of his own – 11, 30 and 8 yards respectively. He amassed 156 total yards.
But even when Hall seemed to have an Answer, Conard found ways to score. After a touchdown run by Blaschinski which got the Warriors within 52-34, Conard’s Aidan Stabnick returned the ensuing squib kick for a touchdown.
I’ve never been a part of a game where it had this type of points,” Cersosimo said. “There’s no doubt about it.”
But not too be forgotten, Hall quarterback Matthew Wilcox completed 26 of 48 passes for 359 yards and four touchdowns — 12, 30, 24 and 60 yards each – to four different receivers.
Conard is in position to qualify for the Class LL playoffs, but will need a bit of help.
Currently sixth in the rankings, the Chieftains need either a loss by Ridgefield, Staples or West Haven this week. They can also qualify with a Newington or Simsbury win to achieve on of its two remaining bonuses. And finally, if Ridgefield doesn’t achieve all four of its bonuses, Conard makes it into the Class LL field.
Conard 66, Hall 47
Hall: 7 7 7 26 — 47
Conard: 0 31 14 21 — 66
(at Bob McKee Stadium)
H-John Wells 12 pass from Matt Wilcox (Erin Bellucci kick)
C-Jack Ryan 9 pass from Bryon Jones (Finn Cahill kick)
C-Nate Richam 87 run (Cahill kick)
C-Cahill 27 field goal
H-Tyler Strickling 1 run (Bellucci kick)
C-Devon Penez 41 pass from Declan Flaherty (Cahill kick)
C-Jonathan Lagoy 50 pass from Flaherty (Cahill kick)
H-Theo Blaschinski 11 run (Bellucci kick)
C-Richam 69 run (Cahill kick)
C-Richam 71 run (Cahill kick)
H-Blaschinski 30 pass from Wilcox
C-Richam 11 fumble recovery (Cahill kick)
H-Blaschinski 8 run (Bellucci kick)
C-Aidan Stabnick 65 kickoff return (Cahill kick)
H-Michael Verrengia 24 pass from Wilcox (Bellucci kick)
C-Richam 59 run (Cahill kick)
H-Jordan Weinstock 60 pass from Wilcox (Pass failed)
Records: Hall 5-5 (1-3 CCC D-I West, Conard 8-2 (3-1 CCC D-I West).