MILFORD — Jonathan Law accomplished something it had not achieved in a decade on Friday night when Lyman Hall-Wallingford paid a visit to Milford in the SCC Tier 3 season opener for both schools.
Behind a relentless offensive bombardment, the Lawmen picked up their first season-opening victory since 2009, vanquishing the pesky Trojans 50-40.
“The goal, when we broke it down at the end, the score wasn’t what we wanted but that was the last goal for us to achieve since I took over the program,” Law fourth-year head coach Erik Larka said. “We’ve done a lot of things positive but haven’t won the first game.”
Despite falling behind 30-0, Lyman Hall got within 30-22 when wide receiver Shakespeare Rodriguez hauled in one of his four touchdown passes from quarterback S.P. Pragano at the 9:58 mark of the third quarter. It was a banner night for Rodriguez, who caught 12 passes for 254 yards and four scores.
Another barrage from Law to close out the period seemed to put the game away for good. Tailback Curtis Murphy ripped off touchdown runs of nine and 13 yards to extend the cushion to 43-22, before defensive back Sakye Mercado intercepted a pass from Pragano and returned it 50 yards for a score with 49 seconds left in the third.
“I said to my kids we can’t let Law have the big plays,” Lyman Hall head coach Bill Weyrauch said. “And we let them have the big plays. They have good athletes and the quarterback threw the ball great. They made big plays when it counted, and we made too many mistakes to beat that Law team.”
Lyman Hall tried to rally again in the fourth, as Pragano fired touchdown passes to Luke O’Reardon from 48 yards and two more to Rodriguez (42 and 12 yards).
“The individual effort of Shakespeare Rodriguez and Luke O’Reardon was outstanding,” Weyrauch said. “I told our team that every guy has to give what they have to give, and we’ll be fine… I can’t say enough about what those individuals did tonight.”
Following Rodriguez’s 12-yard score with 1:13 left, the two-point conversion failed to provide the final scoreline of 50-40. Law was able to salt away the clock from there.
“If we didn’t pull our foot off the throttle, we could’ve probably gotten two more scores,” Larka said. “I get more conservative when we are winning… Sometimes you have to play smart instead of doing what you want to do.”
The Lawmen roared out to a 30-0 lead midway through the second quarter behind four touchdown passes from quarterback Mike Becker.
“I’m proud of my kids,” Weyrauch said. “Once you spot a team 30 points in the SCC you’re not going to come back and win too many. I’m proud they stayed in the game. This could have been a running-clock game at any time… We turned around and got to 30-22 and it was a ball game.”
Becker threw a pair of first-frame scores, a 28-yarder to Rayshon Jacobs and a 36-yard strike to Naheim Washington.
Lyman Hall then gifted the Lawmen a safety, when an errant snap on third-and-18 from the Trojan 12 rolled into the end zone, forcing Pragano to step out of bounds after scooping it up to avoid a Law defensive touchdown.
Jacobs hauled in two more scoring strikes from Becker, from 12 yards on the first play of the second quarter, and a 14-yarder to push the Law margin to 30-0 with 8:30 left in the half.
“Jacobs proved he’s one of the best players in the SCC and also maybe in the state,” Larka said.
Said Jacobs: “I come out every night and play my heart out not only for me but for my team and the great coaches we have, but also everyone that came out to watch.”
Lyman Hall countered with two scores to gain some momentum heading into the locker room.
Pragano hit Rodriguez on a short pass on 4th-and-2 at the 5:20 mark, with the big senior wide receiver juking his way across the middle en route to a 42-yard touchdown.
Linebacker O’Reardon then came up with a big defensive play for the Trojans, intercepting a Becker pass at the Lawmen 42. A 10-play, 42-yard drive, capped by a 1-yard Pragano run as the first-half horn sounded, cut the Lyman Hall deficit to 30-16 following the second of two successful two-point conversions.
But Law’s offense was too much for the Trojans to handle in the end.
“We have a very powerful offense. Our line is great, we can’t do anything without the line,” Jacobs said.