Pictured: Morgan quarterback Drew Nye (8) and his favorite target, Alex Fratamico (2), connected for 166 yards Friday in a 36-22 win over Haddam-Killingworth. (Photo by Marc Silvestrini).
By Marc Silvestrini
HIGGANUM — The Huskies of Morgan traveled a few miles north on Route 81 Friday night and came away with a 36-22 Pequot Conference win over Haddam-Killingworth behind the play and leadership of their quarterback, Drew Nye.
Nye’s splendid play was obvious both on the field and on the stat sheet as he completed 22 of 34 pass attempts for 287 yards and all five of Morgan’s touchdowns while rushing for an additional 42 yards on 10 carries.
His leadership skills are a bit more subtle but showed up in a postgame interview.
When asked to comment on his big night throwing the football, Nye chose to redirect the conversation to his teammates, specifically center Chris Carmona — who filled in admirably for starter Jordan Armstrong (Armstrong missed Friday’s game but is expected to return next week) — and 6-foot-4 wideout Alex Fratamico, who hauled in seven passes on the night for 166 yards, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion catch.
“I was real proud of Chris and the job he did out there tonight,” Nye said. “And, as for Alex, he’s just a stud. He’s really a freak athlete and I can’t tell you how great it is to throw the ball to a guy with a frame like that.”
Nye and Fratamico, however, were not the only players to enjoy a big night.
H-K’s standout junior running back Orion Inkel rushed for 183 yards, two touchdowns and a conversion on 18 carries to keep the Cougars within striking distance throughout the contest.
After forcing a Cougar punt on H-K’s first possession, Nye and the Huskies wasted little time in grabbing an early lead, launching an 11-play, 80-yard drive on their first series. The drive featured three Nye completions to Ethan Ranaudo, including a 4-yard touchdown pass midway through the opening quarter. Nye then hit Fratamico for the conversion that upped the Huskies’ lead to 8-0.
The Cougars were forced to punt after three plays on their ensuing possession and Morgan’s Nino Cimino got a hand on the kick, giving the Huskies the ball at the Cougar 43.
From there the Huskies advanced the ball 27 yards in seven plays, mostly behind the running of sophomore Casey Corrigan, to the Cougar 16.
Fratamico then finished the drive by alertly spinning around and cutting in front of a Cougar defender to haul in a slightly underthrown ball while falling into the end zone. Fratamico also caught the two-point conversion attempt, but was ruled out of bounds, leaving the score at 14-0 with 2:02 left in the opening quarter.
After a short Morgan kickoff, H-K put together an eight-play, 31-yard drive. Unfortunately for the Cougars, the drive stalled when quarterback Matt Minasian was forced into a hurried throw on fourth-and-11 due to a bad snap from center.
But the feisty Cougars came right back to score on their next possession behind Inkel, who accounted for 71 of the 73 yards H-K gained on the march. That yardage included a 51-yard burst to get the drive started and a 10-yard touchdown run to end it, slicing Morgan’s lead to 14-7 with 4:26 left in the half.
Morgan and Nye, however, were not ready for the halftime break.
After an exchange of punts, Morgan took over at its own 26 with 1:22 left until halftime and burned the Cougars with a long 67-yard, Drew-to-Fratamico catch and run, that advanced the ball to the 5. A dead-ball foul against the Huskies moved them back to the 22, but a short run by Corrigan and a 14-yard scamper by Nye moved the ball back to the 5 with 9 seconds left in the half.
Nye then rolled out and hit Ranaudo in the end zone to stretch Morgan’s lead to 22-7 at halftime.
After stopping the Huskies on downs to open the second half, H-K marched 62 yards to the end zone in nine plays. Inkel once again led the charge, gaining all but three of the yards on the drive and concluding it with a 22-yard touchdown burst, breaking at least four tackles along the way.
Inkel’s second touchdown of the game made it 22-14 with 5:09 left in the third quarter.
Morgan then responded with a back-breaking 70-yard, 14-play scoring drive that burned the remainder of the third quarter and the first minute of the fourth. The drive ended when Nye hit Fratamico on a short curl pattern in the end zone to pad the Huskie lead to 30-14.
Nye threw his fifth touchdown pass of the night on Morgan’s next possession, hitting Garret Garbinski from 10 yards out to make it 36-14 with 7:46 to play, while Minasian connected with Zenon Kolcio on a 27-yard scoring strike about a minute later to set the final score at 36-22.
Garbinski caught 6 passes on the night for 67 yards and a score and rushed for an additional 43 yards. Ranaudo added 5 catches for 19 yards and two touchdowns, while Corrigan led the Morgan ground attack with 98 yards on 21 carries.
Minasian completed 7 of 17 passes for 67 yards and a touchdown for the Cougars while Matteo Piacenti caught 3 of those passes for 25 yards.
“A big thing for us was that we were able to run the ball tonight, and that helped slow down their pass rush because their defense had to respect our running game,” Morgan’s first-year coach Kevin Sullivan said after collecting his first win with the program.
“Our guys came to play tonight – they played hard on every play, which is exactly what we’ve been preaching to them from the first day of practice,” Sullivan added. “You have to dig down and play hard on every play no matter what happened on the last play. Tonight we did just that and we had a favorable outcome.”
H-K coach Tyler Wilcox thought his team started the game on a flat note, improved in the second and third quarters, but then gave up a few too many points in the fourth quarter for the second week in a row.
“We came out a little bit too slow,” he said. “I thought there was a different feel to the team this week. Last week we came out focused and ready to play. This week we might have been a little overconfident after getting most of our players back and healthy.”
The Cougars won their opener last week against Old Saybrook/Westbrook with only 19 available players.
Score By Quarters
Morgan……14 8 0 14–36
H-K…………..0 7 7 8–22