Football: Jonathan Law throttles Branford Hornets, 35-7
Behind Mike Plaskon's 217 yards rushing and four touchdowns, the Jonathan Law football team defeated Southern Connecticut Conference Tier 3 rival Branford, 35-6, on Friday night at Lawmen Stadium.
The Lawmen have now won four straight games after opening the season with consecutive losses to SCC rival Sheehan of Wallingford and Weston of the South-West Conference.
Plaskon missed both of those games plus one the following week before returning to play after breaking bones in his right hand during the pre-season.
Plaskon had TD runs covering 48, 10 and two yards and also caught a 22-yard pass from quarterback Zach Smith.
"We pitched this game to our players all week in two ways," said Law coach Erik Larka, whose team made the Class M playoffs last year before losing to eventual champion Killingly.
"First, this was a revenge game for us," he said. "Last year, we went out to Branford with a 4-1 record and they were winless at the time. They went and kicked the stuffing out of us.
"And, of course, there was the elimination factor. We lose tonight and it's almost guaranteed to be over (playoff hopes)."
Law will play at unbeaten Daniel Hand next week, then finish out the season against Guilford, Lyman Hall and Foran.
After taking over on a short Branford punt at their own 39, it took only three plays, all runs by Plaskon to cover the 61 yards. Plaskon was stopped for a two-yard loss, then he broke off a 16-yarder, using a stutter step to find an open hole. On his next carry from the Hornets' 48, he used his sprinter's speed to get outside and out-race several defenders into the end zone.
"Sometimes, you just go for it and other times, you need to be patient," explained Plaskon about his running style. "We went into this game planning to run out of the Wildcat. I don't do this all by myself. Those big guys up front (Austin Danville, Zach Gluhanic, Ryan Mola, Eric Borgerson and Nick Hanna) make it easier for me."
After giving up 135 points in their first three games, Law's defense has now allowed just six points in its last two.
"Tonight, we did bent at times, but we never broke," Larka said. "We gave them this and we gave them that. We only let them into the end zone one time and it came near the end of the game, when he had already substituted freely."
Leading the defense was linebacker Austin Danville.
"We knew how important this game was," he said. "We were able to pretty much shut down their running game (76 yards on the night) and that forced them into throwing the ball probably more than they wanted to."
Branford quarterback Sean Kelly was 17-of-31 for 237 yards. He threw a seven-yard TD strike to Kamryn Holmes for his teams' only score with 34 seconds left in the game.
Law finished with 380 yards of offense with 291 coming on the ground. Naheim Washington ran for 45 yards on eight carries. Sheldon Gargano scored Law's other touchdown.
After going 9-for-15 in the first half, Smith didn't have to throw one pass in the final 24 minutes.
"I just hope that the college recruiters are keeping an eye on Michael," Larka said. "He's a scholarship college player."
The loss dropped Branford's record to 4-2 and the Hornets are 10th in the Class M playoff points standings. Law moved up two notches, from 15th to 13th.