North Haven defeats, doesn't deflate Lawmen

“I feel wonderful about what they did,” said Jonathan Law football coach Derrick Lewis after his team lost to host North Haven in the season opener for both teams on Friday night. “We don’t talk much about moral victories, where we’re at…what we’re trying to build but our motto is “Fight, Law, Fight” and that’s what we do. We fight. The kids showed some moxie.”

After falling behind the four-time SCC Division II champions 49-0 after two quarters, the Lawmen rallied to outscore the Indians in the second half, 28-7.

Junior signal-caller Mitchell Smith led the second-half rally throwing for 396 yards and four touchdowns.

“Mitchell Smith is going to be a star,” Lewis said. “He threw for 369 (yards) today and four scores. You don’t expect a first-year starter to do that so we’re very excited.”

Dennis Theis led all receivers with 136 yards and two touchdowns, while Logan Danville and Justin McFadden also caught touchdowns.

Mike Montano led the Indians with three touchdowns and an interception and his brother Mark Montano added two scores. Jack Steinman threw two touchdown passes. Thomas Dodge and Jeremy Imperati also scored for North Haven.

North Haven capitalized on Law’s mistakes in the first quarter. After David Patrick got a Law first down, Imperati recovered a fumble.

Two plays later, Mike Montano found a huge hole up the middle for a 46-yard score.

On Law’s next possession, Smith attempted a pass to Tyler Cavallaro that popped out of his hands into Mike Montano’s who returned it to the Law 20-yard line. Steinman then found Imperati on a back shoulder fade for the touchdown.

Two series later, Nick Ponzio started the drive with a 19-yard run and Mike Montano finished it two plays later on a 32-yard run to make it 21-0.

After another three-and-out for Law, Roland Foerster’s punt was caught by Dodge at midfield who returned it 46 yards for the score to make it 28-0 with two minutes to play in the first quarter.

After Law got a 28-yard return from Tim Caldwell and a nine-yard first down run from the senior, North Haven’s Bryan Searles recovered a fumble and Mike Montano scored on a 51-yard screen pass from Steinman to make it 35-0 at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Law again sputtered, going three-and-out to give North Haven the ball at its own 29. Mark Montano then promptly ran 65 yards up the middle to make it 42-0.

The Law offense continued to struggle to find a rhythm, and was forced to punt once again. North Haven continued the onslaught with a 25-yard score from Max Sullivan to make 49-0 at the half.

The Lawmen showed their grit in the second half.

After a North Haven three-and-out, Smith found Theis on third down for a 74-yard score. Theis ran a seam route from the slot and Smith threw him the ball over the left shoulder for the catch. The Foerster extra point was blocked by Dustin Burns to make it 49-6.

On the third play of the following drive, North Haven fumbled the shotgun snap and the ball was recovered by Patrick at the North Haven 30-yard line. Smith then found McFadden in the end zone for a 30-yard strike. Smith threw to Pettway for the two-point conversion and it was good making it a 49-14 game.

Again, North Haven went three-and-out and turned the ball over to Law at 45-yard line.

The drive didn’t start well for Law, as Smith was sacked and threw an incompletion to make it third-and-18. Smith then found McFadden for 20 yards and followed with strikes to Saley and Mola for the first down. Smith then hit Cavallaro for eight yards to move to the North Haven 18. Smith connected with Danville for an 18-yard score to make it 49-20. Smith’s two-point conversion to McFadden was incomplete.

“I reminded them of who we are,” Lewis told his team between the third and fourth quarter. “We fight when everyone else has stopped fighting and we keep going when everybody else doesn’t want to keep going.

“That was just a little reminder to them that even though the chips are falling and not going our way, we still love each other, we’re still going to be there for one another and push each other to the limit and that’s what I thought we did today.”

North Haven answered Danville’s score with a nine-play, 71-yard drive for another score by Mark Montano, this time on a 20-yard touchdown on fourth-and-short. Paul Murray’s extra point was good to make it 56-20.

Smith and Lawmen followed Montano’s score with one of their own. AJ Repollet returned the low kick to the 50 before Smith found Theis for a 50-yard over-the-shoulder grab to take the score to 56-28.

After forcing another turnover on downs, Law drove 74 yards to the one-yard line but came up short on fourth-and-goal.

“We’re just going to move forward and we feel very confident about the rest of the way,” Lewis said. “Last year, it took us four weeks to get it right now it looks like it took us one half to get it right against the best team we’ve played in years. Without a doubt. I’m positive, the kids are positive.”

Law will host Guilford in its home opener on Sept. 18.