HARTFORD >> The rain and wind made passing a bit difficult. So Middletown coach Sal Morello figured his club would run the ball.
The Blue Dragons did what their coach wanted, running to the tune of 355 yards on 48 carries to win their fourth straight game, 39-14, over Hartford Public at Dillon Stadium Friday night.
Oh, they passed a little bit as Tyshaun James was 4-for-8 for 99 yards with a touchdown, a 51-yard beauty to Justin McMillian in the third quarter that gave MHS a 25-6 lead.
That’s 454 yards of offense.
“I thought our defensive line was excellent,” Morello said. “They hit a couple of big plays early, but after that, we did a very good job. I was also very happy with how we ran the ball. Besides Tyshaun [16 carries, 146 yards], who was very good, Deshaun [Bradshaw, 14 carries, exactly 100 yards] and Ibn [Lombardo, 9 carries, 61 yards] were outstanding.”
Middletown didn’t start quickly, as has been its habit this season. The Dragons did take a 9-0 lead early on a safety when Max Cyr nailed quarterback Joemar Scott [4-for-9, 138 yards] in the end zone, a 3-yard TD run by James and Mike Aresco’s kick.
But the Owls struck on a 62-yard completion from Scott to Keyandre Thomson to the MHS 18, which set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Lavarey Banton that made it a 9-6 game after one.
The Dragons put 10 unanswered points on the board in the second quarter on a 55-yard touchdown run by Bradshaw and Aresco’s 28-yard field goal as time ran out and MHS led at the break, 19-6.
“I don’t want us to get in the habit of slow starts,” Morello said. “I don’t know what it is, maybe a feeling out process, but that could hurt against good teams.”
While Middletown may not start out like gangbusters, it has dominated every game in the second half and it did that this miserable night. James hit McMillian with the aforementioned 51-yard bomb early in the third quarter and I’bn Lombardo scored from five yards out as Middletown took a 32-6 lead to the fourth quarter.
The Dragons grinded it out the rest of the rest of the way, staying on the ground. Morello yanked most of his offensive starters with seven minutes left, but Lombardo, quarterback Trevor Getek and sophomore running back
Tyreese Lumpkin (3 carries, 30 yards) kept the ball with Lumpkin scoring from 23 yards away with 3:15 left to play.
Public got a so-what TD against the Middleton’s junior varsity when Banton scored on a 30-yard run with 2:15 showing. Middletown then ran out the clock.
Public (0-4) finished with 102 yards rushing, but 55 of that came at the end of the game with the Blue Dragons jayvees on the field. Of Public’s 138 yards passing, 112 came on two plays early. In the second half the Owls had only 17 yards in the air.
McMillian had three catches for 92 yards.
“Justin made some great catches on balls into the wind and rain,” Morello said. “Rain can sometimes be an equalizer, but we did a nice job tonight, but we still have things to work on.”