MILFORD — With plenty at stake for the Jonathan Law football team, coach Erik Larka turned to his seniors.
Counting on Ethan Saley and Michael Plaskon, Larka was rewarded as the pair combined for 418 yards of offense in a 40-32 victory over Guilford in a Southern Connecticut Conference Tier 3 contest at Jonathan Law Friday evening.
Plaskon ran for 253 yards and four touchdowns on 21 carries, including three scores in the third quarter, while also passing for 20 yards and catching a touchdown pass. Saley had 145 yards receiving and a touchdown reception.
“I was out to lunch today and I texted both Mike and Ethan,” Larka said. “I just reminded them they are our two best players and on the last time on their home field, they needed to play like that. They did. They are college level players and they took it to heart.”
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With the victory in the last home game of the season, Law kept its playoff hopes alive with road contests with Lyman Hall and Foran on the horizon.
“We are trying to get in,” Plaskon said of the postseason. “We have to win the last two games and hopefully good things will happen.”
Plaskon more than did his part to make sure those good things happened Friday evening, especially in the third quarter when he rushed for three touchdowns and 188 yards as Law scored 20 unanswered points.
Trailing 25-20 at the half, Law made its adjustments on both sides of the ball and outscored the Indians 20-0 in the third quarter. While the defense held the Indians to just 34 yards in the quarter, the offense gained 148 yards and watched Plaskon take over.
Plaskon gave Law the lead for good with an electric 69-yard run for a 26-25 advantage on the first play of the third quarter. After Law held, Plaskon was at it again with an 81-yard run for a 33-25 lead with 3:15 gone by in the quarter.
“If you told me we had twenty points at the half, I would have thought we were up something like 20-7,” Larka said. “But, they were able to move the ball. At the half, we knew we were getting the ball and we knew we had to score. That’s what we kept talking about.”
Law and Plaskon were not done. The senior’s third touchdown run of the quarter from 18 yards out with 1:11 remaining had Law on top 40-25.
“My line just opened up the holes,” Plaskon said. “They did a great job. I was able to break free.”
While the Indians pounded out 271 yards of offense in the opening half, they were held to just 105 yards in the second half, including just 34 in the third quarter.
“We had a tough time getting going in the third quarter,” Guilford coach Anthony Avallone said. “That (Michael) Plaskon is a good running back. He got us a couple of times. We just weren’t able to execute in the second half. We had some opportunities, but we did not execute. They got away from us. It is very disappointing because of how well we played in the first half.”
The first half set the tone in the contest as the two teams combined for 45 points and 474 yards with the Indians leading 25-20. More than those numbers, the two teams combined for four touchdowns in the final 3:12 of the opening half, including two scores in the final 1:05.
With Law leading 7-6 on a Plaskon 35-yard touchdown run 3:23 into the game, Guilford took its first lead of the contest at 13-7 when an 11-play, 68-yard drive was capped with a Charles Schioppo 1-yard run. The score was a controversial one as it appeared Guilford had fumbled a play earlier which was recovered by Law, but to no avail.
The Indians had all the momentum until Law’s Michael Becker recovered a Guilford fumble at the Law 29. One play later, Law quarterback Zach Smith hit Saley in stride for a 29-yard scoring strike and a 14-13 lead with 3:12 remaining in the opening half.
“All week we practiced and we put in some plays,” Saley said. “We just kept getting repetitions and I think we had that chemistry all week. It was just all the practice we put in.”
The fireworks were just beginning. Guilford needed just four plays to march 60 yards, capped by an 8-yard scamper by Charles Walcott for a 19-14 lead.
Law had its own answer, needing just two plays to march 68 yards. Smith (218 yards passing) and Plaskon were at it again as the quarterback hit Plaskon down the left sideline for a 64-yard scoring strike and a 20-19 lead after the run failed on the conversion.
While it looked as if Law would go to the half up one point, Guilford used a short field to march just 31 yards in 24 seconds. The 3-play drive ended with a 2-yard run by Ethan Vashel for a 25-20 advantage with 31 seconds remaining in the opening half.
Walcott ran for 153 yards for the Indians as the two teams combined for 759 yards of offense.
Player of the Game
Michael Plaskon — The Law senior ran for 253 yards, threw for 20 yards, and scored three touchdowns on the ground and one in the air.
“They brought a lot of pressure on us up the middle. They came up with some big plays and we did not execute.”
— Guilford coach Anthony Avallone on the difference of his team in the second half from the first.
Law 40, Guilford 32
Guilford 6 19 0 7 – 32
Law 7 13 20 0 – 40
- L – Michael Plaskon 35 run ((Spencer Hannon kick) 8:37
- G – Ethan Vashel to Miles Gabriel 5 pass (Kick blocked) 1:09
- G – Charles Schioppo 1 run (Tyler Filley) 5:37
- L – Zach Smith to Ethan Saley 29 pass (Hannon Kick) 3:12
- G – Charles Walcott 8 run (kick failed) 1:48
- L – Zach Smith to Michael Plaskon 64 pass (Run failed) 1:05
- G – Ethan Vashel 2 run (Pass failed) 0:31
- L – Michael Plaskon 69 run (Pass failed) 11:42
- L – Plaskon 81 run (Hannon kick) 8:45
- L – Plaskon 18 run (Hannon kick) 1:11
- G – Vashel to Tyler Filley 67 pass (Filley kick) 1:57