SEYMOUR >> After losing four games in the closing minutes last season, including to Amity, Seymour football coach Tom Lennon preached to his squad the importance of finishing a contest.
This year against Amity, Seymour took a two-touchdown lead with just over two minutes remaining. The Spartans, though, responded with a touchdown of their own on the ensuing possession.
But, this time, the Wildcats were able to hold on. Seymour took over with 1:59 left and proceeded to run out the clock in a 33-27 victory in the season opener for both teams Thursday at DeBarber Field.
“That’s something I am proud of, the way we were able to finish the game,” Lennon said. “That is something we preached throughout the summer, throughout the offseason. I was happy we were able to come out and do that tonight.”
Amity, a Class LL school from the powerful Southern Connecticut Conference, won last season’s meeting 24-21 against the Wildcats from the Naugatuck Valley League.
Seymour received a monster effort from senior running back Joey Salemme, who rushed 37 times for a career-high 361 yards and four touchdowns.
“This is probably the best feeling I’ve had here at Seymour so far,” Salemme said. “It’s crazy that we put in this much work and to finally see it all pay off feels really good.”
Salemme’s 53-yard touchdown with 2:12 left in the fourth quarter gave the Wildcats a 33-20 lead. But on the first play from scrimmage on the next possession, Amity quarterback Michael DeVito connected with Matt Attolino on a 32-yard touchdown pass. Jordan D’Onofrio’s point after kick cut the lead to 33-27, but that’s as close as the Spartans would come.
“We were right with them,” Amity coach Bert Mozealous said. “We told the kids we were really proud of their effort. We have to clean up some of the little things that we do; get off the ball a little bit better, stay low.”
A 3-yard touchdown pass from Seymour quarterback Jaylen Kelley to Matt Vartelas gave Seymour a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Amity tied the game on Attolino’s 53-yard run. Touchdown runs of 48 and 13 yards from Salemme put the Wildcats up 21-7. The Spartans, though, crept to within 21-13 on Dchaun Wilson’s 1-yard touchdown run as time expired in the second quarter.
Salemme then raced 49 yards for touchdowns to put Seymour up 27-13 early in the third quarter.
After forcing Amity to punt, Seymour took over but fumbled the ball away. During the turnover, a scuffle broke out, which resulted in offsetting personal foul penalties. However, Seymour’s Brandon Otero and Amity’s Jesse Kwolek were both ejected and will miss next week’s game against St. Paul and Sheehan, respectively.
After order was restored, DeVito and Attolino hooked up on a 12-yard touchdown to cut the Seymour lead to 27-20. Then the teams traded touchdowns to complete the scoring. Attolino finished with two catches for 42 yards and two touchdowns and also carried twice for 62 yards and one score.
“You can’t have your head down when something goes wrong,” Mozealous said. “You have to just keep playing. I think we learned that in the second half a little bit more. The first half, for some reason, we just didn’t play that well. The second half we played better. We know that our young kids have to do a better job.”
Jake Bleau made two interceptions for Seymour, which both led to touchdowns. Joe Razowski, C.J. Falcioni, Chris Abate and Tyler Sirowich each had sacks for the Wildcats.
“Mainly our defense is usually our strong point,” Bleau said. “We pulled it out. We pulled out the ‘W’.”
|Seymour 33, Amity 27||1||2||3||4||F|
S—Matt Vartelas 3 pass from Jaylen Kelley (Chase Desautels kick)
A—Matt Attolino 53 run (Jordan D’Onofrio kick)
S—Joey Salemme 48 run (Desautels kick)
S—Joey Salemme 13 run (Desautels kick)
A—Dchaun Wilson 1 run (kick failed)
S—Joey Salemme 49 run (kick failed)
A—Matt Attolino 12 pass from Michael DeVito (D’Onofrio kick)
S—Joey Salemme 53 run (kick failed)
A—Matt Attolino 32 pass from Michael DeVito (D’Onofrio kick)
Team records: Seymour 1-0; Amity 0-1