— Elliott Polakoff (@ElliottPolakoff) November 28, 2018
ANSONIA — Maybe you’ve heard this story before — the Ansonia football team scored from long-distance on its first play from scrimmage, setting itself up for another lopsided victory.
How about a wrinkle?
Instead of a quick-strike run, Ansonia did it Tuesday night against Plainfield in the Class S quarterfinals through the air — specifically receiver Jalen Johnson and quarterback Sheldon Schuler. The duo connected three times for touchdowns to help the top-seeded Chargers roll to a 42-0 victory at Jarvis Stadium.
“I was surprised when we started passing the ball like that because usually we are a running team, but our coach has the confidence in us to pass the ball,” said Johnson, who caught five passes for 209 yards.
Ansonia (11-0) advances to host No. 4 Bloomfield on Saturday in the semifinals.
After forcing a quick three-and-out to start the game, Ansonia took over on its own 35. Schuler dropped back and found Johnson streaking down the middle of the field for a 65-yard score.
“When he called the play I was like, ‘I’m gonna get this,’ ” Johnson said.
Down 7-0 Plainfield, the No. 8 seed, mounted a drive deep into Ansonia territory but it stalled, in part, due to a penalty.
The Panthers still held the Chargers to only four plays in the first quarter and did a good job throughout the game bottling up Ansonia’s standout junior running back Shykeem Harmon, who came in averaging 186.4 yards per game. Harmon did score in the second quarter to make it 14-0, but finished with less than 100 yards
To stop the run Plainfield (8-3) stacked the defensive box, which created openings for Schuler to exploit downfield. The sophomore finished 7-of-11 for 246 yards.
“The coverage they were playing made it easier to pick it out, so we were throwing over the top every time,” Schuler said.
It was a calculated gamble for Plainfield.
“No. 10 (Johnson) is a tremendous athlete. He got caught up in a 1-on-1 coverage on a few occasions and that’s the turning point,” Panthers coach Pat Smith said. “You pick your poison. We had to pick our poison. Unfortunately they made more plays in the passing game than we did.”
Johnson’s second touchdown grab saw him shake off a tackle near the line of scrimmage and take it 61 yards up the left sideline to swell Ansonia’s lead to 20-0 at halftime.
Garrett Cafaro caught Schuler’s fourth touchdown throw — beating double coverage from 36-yards out.
Plainfield’s most effective plays on offense came through speedy junior Lucien Dube on the outside and senior Kyle Holt running inside.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jalen Johnson, Ansonia. The sophomore receiver caught five passes — three for touchdowns — and finished with 209 yards.
“Running is definitely the big key for our game. We’ll try to balance it for next week and come out with a win.” Ansonia quarterback Sheldon Schuler on his team’s pass-heavy attack vs. Plainfield on Tuesday night.
ANSONIA 42, PLAINFIELD 0
PLANFIELD 0 0 0 0—0
ANSONIA 7 13 15 7—42
- A—Jalen Johnson 65 pass Sheldon Schuler (Johnson kick)
- A—Shykeem Harmon 1 run (Johnson kick)
- A—Johnson 61 pass Schuler (kick failed)
- A—Garrett Cafaro 24 pass Schuler (Harmon run)
- A—Johnson 36 pass Schuler (Johnson kick)
- A—Jy’mere Jones 2 run (Johnson kick)
Records: Plainfield 8-3; Ansonia 11-0