NEW BRITAIN — New Britain quarterback Tahje Yopp had no idea his team’s top running back, Shawn Robinson, had entered the game for the first time to start the second half until he got the play call from the sidelines.
“I didn’t know until we called ‘White,’ and Shawn was at running back,” Yopp said. “I said, ‘Oh, he’s back! He’s back!’”
Robinson immediately made his presence felt, gaining 40 yards total on his first two carries of a 69-yard drive that culminated with Yopp’s four-yard scoring keeper.
“He always looks good,” Hurricanes coach Tebucky Jones said of Robinson, a powerful, shifty back.
Robinson, who didn’t play at all in the first half due to a shoulder injury, didn’t do a whole lot more the rest of the way. But Yopp and senior back Kaiyon Gunn picked up the slack as New Britain wound up with a 30-7 victory at Veterans Stadium.
The Hurricanes improved to 4-0, while Simsbury is still looking for its first win in four tries.
“We considered them the best 0-3 team in the state,” Jones said of the Trojans. “They should have beat East Hartford, played Southington tight. So, we knew we were coming in for a battle.”
Gunn did all the work on New Britain’s first drive, gaining 74 yards on six carries, the final one a 36-yard scoring run. Yopp’s two-yard scamper in the final seconds of the opening quarter put the Hurricanes up 14-0, but Simsbury didn’t go away easily.
A four-yard run by Trojan quarterback Jackson Butler sliced the deficit in half, and it remained a 14-7 game at halftime.
That’s when Jones went to see how his star back was doing.
“We wanted to see where Shawn was,” he said. “He came in, looked pretty good. We told the linemen, we’ve got to buckle up and keep running the ball.”
Yopp said he didn’t even know that Robinson wouldn’t be starting until earlier in the day.
“Coach didn’t want us to know,” Yopp said.
But he was glad to see Robinson enter the game to start the second half.
“That gave us a real big boost,” Yopp added, “because Simsbury had to play defense on him now, because they know he’s a big impact. So, it made my job a little easier, because now I can keep, because they’re flowing to him. It made things real easy for me.”
Jones didn’t overwork Robinson too much after that first drive, but New Britain’s defense did the job by keeping Simsbury off the board the rest of the way. Hubert Lanoszka came up with a big interception to end a long Trojan drive late in the third quarter, and Robert Zapor sacked Butler in the end zone for a safety with 4:35 left.
Yopp’s two-yard run with six seconds left capped the scoring. Gunn also had a first-half interception for the Hurricanes, who now turn their attention to Southington for a huge showdown next weekend.
“It’s another big rival in our conference,” said Jones. “We’ve just got to be prepared and be ready.”