The Jonathan Law football team took an immeasurable step back toward respectability last Friday night, as the Lawmen withstood a slow start before accelerating for a 28-12 Southern Connecticut Conference interdivisional home win over Wilbur Cross of New Haven.
Down 6-0 after Cross’ Tyvon Bradley recovered a Tim Maher fumble in the Law end zone at 5:19 of the second quarter, the Lawmen, behind Maher at quarterback, picked it up and with the victory snapped a 12-game losing streak dating back to the 2010 season.
“This is a huge win for us,” said Law coach Mark Robinson, whose teams have suffered through three straight losing seasons. “We had to get rid of the pain. We had to lose some of that doubt. Could we do it? Obviously, tonight we proved that we can.”
Law rallied right after giving up the early touchdown. It appeared that the ball had been downed and one official signaled that it was a safety.
But when Bradley came up with the ball, the call was reversed and Cross was awarded a touchdown.
Robinson consulted one of the officials, saying that there couldn’t be a change of possession once the ball was ruled dead. The call, however, wasn’t changed.
“These kids never got flustered after what happened,” Robinson said. “I was very impressed by that. They showed maturity. That would’ve bothered us before. These guys simply said, ‘no way.’”
Law came right back after the touchdown to score on a nine-play, 67-yard drive engineered by Maher.
During the series, he had runs of 10, nine and three yards before Nick Kosa scored the touchdown on a three-yard carry with 1:51 to go in the half.
Mick Murray’s conversion kick gave Law the lead it would never lose.
Law followed it up with a 55-yard, 11-play drive at the start of the second half and improved its lead to 14-6.
Going exclusively with a ground game, the Lawmen got on the board when Daron Britt scampered in from 14 yards out at the 6:51 mark.
“We’re able to shuffle lots of players in on offense because we keep it very simple,” Robinson said. “So we give a lot of kids playing time that way.”
In addition to Maher, Robinson also used Britt, Joe Ziebell, Dan Ziebell, Kosa and Matt Schlenk in the backfield.
Up front, he had Jimmy Marron and Brian Santora at guards along with George Knoth and Alex Boyd at the tackles.
Nick Casagrande centered the line with Timmy Speer and Ryan Siddell at the receiving positions.
When Britt broke off a 70-yard run at 4:54 of the third, Law pushed its lead out to 21-6 after Murray’s third PAT.
Britt went to his right, found a hole, then showed sprinter’s speed in going the distance.
Cross made it a 21-12 game after quarterback Matt Ricketts (6-of-18 for 129 yards) connected with Elijah Long for a 38-yard scoring strike at 9:09 of the fourth quarter.
But the Lawmen responded, and Joe Ziebell closed out an eight-play, 58-yard drive with an 18-yard touchdown run at 5:12.
“We buckled down and wore them down,” Robinson said. “With our conditioning we won out.”
In all, Law, which lost its opener to Sheehan of Wallingford, 45-42, despite more than 400 yards of offense, had 349 yards against the now 0-2 Governors.
Britt led the way with 101 yards on only six carries, while Maher had 73 yards on 21 attempts and Joe Ziebell added 67 on 12 tries.
Law’s defense, led by Boyd, Casagrande, Santora, Ray Cruz and Mark DiBartolomeo up front, linebackers Eli Woodbury, Knoth and Dan Ziebell, along with deep backs Speer, Najee Smith and Siddall, held Cross to 249 yards and one score.
“Now we need to go back and practice and practice hard for Hamden,” Robinson said. “We’ll be facing another speed team. It seems like it’s that way every week in the SCC.”
Hamden (0-2) will host the Lawmen Friday at 7 p.m. The Green Dragons are coming off a 15-14 loss to Danbury High.