WINSTED — Coventry’s Nick Pronovost ran back the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, setting the tone for a first-quarter hole Gilbert/Northwestern could never climb out of in a 42-20 Patriot win at Gilbert’s Van Why Field Saturday afternoon.
“They’ve got some size, but our game plan was to stop (6-2, 240-pound fullback Shaun O’Connell),” said G/N Coach Scott Salius. “For the most part, we did that (12 carries, 42 yards for O’Connell).
“On offense, we knew they would be keying on (featured Yellowjacket runner Billy Komons) so we planned to use him as a lure and run some of our other backs at them.
“It was going to be a first-quarter game — whichever side could establish momentum,” Salius said.
Senior Pronovost, a nationally-ranked decathlete at Coventry High School, established the momentum on the opening play and the Patriots (6-0 overall; 4-0 Pequot League Uncas Division) rolled downhill for 22 first-quarter points from there.
Komons went down with a possible concussion on G/N’s first play from scrimmage after Pronovost’s runback. Defensive back Jacob Carlson intercepted quarterback Brad Lissy’s pass at the G/N 20-yard line on the second.
G/N (3-3 overall; 3-2 Uncas Division) quickly found that stopping O’Connell was just part of the problem.
The Patriots took it in for another touchdown in six plays highlighted by another 10 yards and a final two from Pronovost (7 carries; 57 yards).
Down 16-0 in the first four minutes, Zach Horvay-McLellan (8 carries; 63 yards) gave the Yellowjackets some hope with a first-play 15-yard run.
“(Komons) went out, but they kept running people at us,” said Patriots Coach Tony Bonito. “They’re so well coached. Their defensive alignments made us do things we don’t normally do.”
Nevertheless, G/N stalled after McLellan’s run and the Patriots were back in business on their own 15 after a booming punt by Yellowjacket Liam Duran.
This time, Coventry running back Jordan Smith (12 carries; 65 yards) did the heavy lifting with a 21-yard run, followed by a knockout scoring pass, 30 yards from quarterback Carlson to Devin Slead with just 40 seconds left in the quarter.
Carlson (14 carries; 70 yards) dug the hole to 28-0 in a 42-yard second-quarter scoring sprint.
With another 3-yard Carlson score in the middle of the third quarter, Gilbert/Northwestern had no hope of coming back from the 36-0 spread, despite some great G/N performances.
E.J. Clamen (11 carries; 159 yards) ran for 36 yards and the touchdown in four carries in G/N’s first scoring drive, late in the third quarter, then got through the Patriot line for a 77-yard touchdown in the fourth following a 15-yard score by Coventry’s Carlson.
Sophomore G/N quarterback Chase Sanden threw an 11-yard scoring strike to Barry Longo for the final score.
“You know you have to play much better than this against (Stafford/East Windsor/Somers),” Coach Bonito told his team.
The showdown of undefeated Uncas leaders is Friday at Stafford High School.
“Any time you’re 6-0, it’s good,” grinned Bonito, guiding his team to that level for the second time in Patriot history. The first was his 9-0 team in 2011.
Meanwhile, Yellowjacket Coach Salius takes solace in the quality of Pequot teams at the top.
“The three teams we’ve lost to have a combined record of 17-1,” he said. “I think the Pequot League could make some noise in the playoffs this year.”
Coventry Co-Op 42, Gilbert/Northwestern 20
At Van Why Field, Winsted
C/W/B/L – Nick Pronovost 93-yard kickoff return (Jacob Carlson run)
C/W/B/L – Pronovost 2-yard run (Brandon Sklenar pass from Carlson)
C/W/B/L – Devin Slead 30-yard pass from Carlson (run failed)
C/W/B/L – Carlson 42-yard run (pass incomplete)
C/W/B/L – Carlson 3-yard run (Carlson run)
G/N – E.J. Claman 3-yard run (run failed)
C/W/B/L – Carlson 15-yard run (pass incomplete)
G/N – Claman 77-yard run (run failed)
G/N – Barry Longo 11-yard pass from Chase Sanden (Longo run)
Rushing: C/W/B/L – Jacob Carlson 14 carries/70 yards; Nick Pronovost 7/57; Shaun O’Connell 12/42; Jordan Smith 12/65. G/N – Zach Horvay-McLellan 8/63; Brad Lissy 5/5; E.J. Claman 11/159; Chase Sanden 1/6; Morgan Ossolinski 3/18.
Passing: C/W/B/L – Jacob Carlson 2 completions/5 attempts/34 yards. G/N – Brad Lissy 2/10/23/2 interceptions; Chase Sanden 1/4/11.
Receiving: C/W/B/L – Devin Slead 1 reception/30 yards; Brandon Sklenar 1/4. G/N – Dylan Mulligan 1/8; Zach Horvay-McLellan 1/15; Barry Longo 1/11.
Records: Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton/Lyman 6-0; 4-0 Uncas Division. Gilbert/Northwestern 3-3; 3-2 Uncas Division.