FARMINGTON >> Middletown junior quarterback Tyshaun James tossed two touchdown passes and ran for two more scores, junior Laurenzo Thompkins added two touchdowns and seniors Jordan Baker and Trequan Weston spearheaded a big defensive effort in the second half as the Blue Dragons defeated Farmington, 35-14, in a Central Connecticut Conference battle Friday night at Bennett Field.
It was Middletown’s fourth straight victory.
“We got the win but we didn’t play particularly well,” Blue Dragons coach Sal Morello said. “I like the way we responded in the second half but there’s a lot to clean up still.”
Middletown was missing senior running back Hunter Belzo and senior lineman Zalan Mumtaz, both out with injuries, then lost starting outside linebacker Jay Nanfito to a shoulder injury early in the first half.
“It was tough and losing Jay, I thought, affected our kids a little bit,” Morello added. “I felt terrible for the kid but we have to learn how to play through those things.”
The Blue Dragons (5-1) looked like a well-oiled machine in the first quarter, scoring on all three of its possessions to take a 21-0 lead.
After a terrific opening kick return from Nico Cavaliere, Middletown quickly marched 56 yards. James capped the drive by rifling a perfect 12-yard strike to Weston in the end zone and Mike Aresco’s kick made it 7-0.
The Blue Dragons took advantage of good field position on their second possession and were on the move again. James found senior Isaiah King with a 20-yard pass play that gave Middletown a first and goal at the 5 and Thompkins, who rushed for 82 yards on 16 carries, took it in from there to make it 14-0.
Middletown surprised the Indians with an on-sides kick that was recovered by Baker and two plays later James sprinted 45 yards for touchdown to give the Blue Dragons a 21-0 lead with 2:10 left in the first quarter.
The Indians (2-4) also fell behind in losses against Wethersfield and Windsor.
“We just can’t keep spotting teams,” Farmington coach Chris Machol said. “When we play the better teams we frequently just get down quick and you can’t come back against a team that good. They’re just too fast and too skilled.”
The Blue Dragons threatened to take a four touchdown advantage midway through the second quarter but Indians junior Kevin Dunst intercepted a James pass in the end zone. On the ensuing play, junior running back Brian Buono exploded through the line, cut back and raced 80 yards for a touchdown. Sean Dunleavy’s extra point kick made it 21-7.
Buono nearly broke free for another long touchdown run on the final play of the first half but was brought down by sophomore Mike Souza.
“He just doesn’t quit,” Machol said of Buono. “He’s a tough runner. He’s a small kid but he has great vision. He’s patient to the hole and then he’s fast through it. He runs hard and doesn’t stop his feet.”
Middletown stretched its lead with a pair of third quarter touchdowns. Thompkins made a nice sliding catch in the end zone on a 12-yard toss from James. And after Bilal Chapman’s interception, James capped a short drive with a four yard scoring run that made it 35-7 with 4:11 left in the third quarter.
Buono, who finished with 184 yards on 22 carries, added his second touchdown on a 7-yard scamper with just 30 seconds left to play.
Indians sophomore quarterback Zac Conrad came on late in the second half and completed 7 of 9 passes for 38 yards, while senior Mike Popolizio had five receptions for 49 yards.
“I just told the kids I’m proud of the way we came out in quarters two, three and four,” Machol said “We played a pretty good football team pretty evenly for three quarters. We’ve had a tough early schedule and we wanted to come out of here in good shape. We can turn a 35-14 performance against a great team into something positive moving forward.”
James gained 113 yards on 13 attempts. He also completed 10 of 23 passes for 122 yards. Payton White and Baker also had interceptions for Middletown.
“With a young team there’s still room for improvement,” Morello said. “I give credit to the Farmington kids. They never quit. We’re up 21-0 and little by little we let them back in the game. We have to learn to play 48 minutes. We’re going to keep pushing these kids and get better because the last four games nothing is going to be easy. Nothing is going to be given to us.”