Pictured: Drew Nye completed 38 of 55 pass attempts to six different receivers in Morgan’s 50-20 win over Coginchaug/Hale-Ray/East Hampton on Friday night. (Photo by Kim Inglis)
By Marc Silvestrini
CLINTON — Morgan senior quarterback Drew Nye had a game Friday night that will be cause for celebration in the town of Clinton for the next, oh, 448 years.
That’s exactly how many yards Nye threw for Friday night in leading the Huskies to their fifth straight win, a 50-20 thumping of previously undefeated Coginchaug/Hale-Ray/East Hampton.
Nye, who completed 38 of 55 passes, also threw for a school-record seven touchdown passes, just two off the state record.
And the reviews are almost as spectacular as the performance.
“Oh yeah,” said Coginchaug coach Mike Eagle, when asked if Nye is the best quarterback he’s seen this year. “This year? Absolutely!”
Eagle, who led the Morgan program from 2010 through 2014, his first head coaching job, said Nye is difficult to defend because he has an uncanny ability to spot his receivers through heavy traffic downfield even when he’s being flushed out of the pocket by pass rushers. And once he finds an open Receiver, he “puts the ball right on the spot.”
“He’s good,” Eagle said. “He’s very good, and he’s also playing with a couple of real good receivers.”
Nye had quite the encore after throwing for 517 yards and five TDs in the Huskies’ monumental 44-42 comeback win over SMSA last Saturday. His own coach, Kevin Sullivan, said his quarterback “just keeps getting better each week.”
“He played a fantastic game tonight, but we’re beginning to expect this kind of performance from him every week,” Sullivan said. “The thing about Drew is that he works real hard in practice, he just keeps pushing himself to get better.
“I’m just lucky to have inherited a player like him,” the first-year head coach said.
Nye’s play also drew high praise from Alex Fratamico, one of those real good receivers Eagle was referring to.
“He’s just the greatest quarterback in the history of this school,” said Fratamico, who caught 12 of Nye’s passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns. “I’ve been playing with him for years now, and he’s always
known how to put the ball in the right place for his receivers. He’s amazing.”
Nye and the Huskies took the opening kickoff and promptly launched a 52-yard, 12-play drive that gave Morgan a lead it would never relinquish.
Nye hit Nick Schmidt on a 10-yard scoring play and Garret Garbinski hit Fratamico with a short flip to add the two-point conversion, giving Morgan an 8-0 lead four minutes into the game.
After an exchange of punts, Nye hit six of his seven passing attempts to fuel a 10-play, 87-yard drive that ended when he hit Fratamico on a short crossing pattern from the Coginchaug 13. Fratamico caught the ball at the 5, stopped suddenly as the Blue Devil defender who was in hot pursuit sailed by him, and pivoted into the end zone.
“Sometimes I get to use some of my basketball moves on the football field,” said Fratamico, who was a key member of Morgan’s Shoreline Conference champion basketball team last winter, as was Nye.
Nye’s conversion pass to Garbinski stretched the Morgan lead to 16-0, which was the score after one quarter of play.
Coginchaug tailback Anthony Toth took a sprint draw 27 yards into the end zone on the first play of the second quarter to narrow the gap to 16-6, but Morgan answered five minutes later when Nye and Fratamico, who had outraced the Coginchaug secondary, hooked up on a pretty, 21-yard, over-the-shoulder touchdown pass-and-catch to make it 22-6.
When the Huskies’ defense stopped Coginchaug on downs at the Morgan 42 on the Blue Devils ensuing possession, Nye and the Huskie offense wasted no time in getting back into the end zone.
On the first play from scrimmage after the defensive stand, Nye waited patiently for Cameron Johnson to get open on a deep crossing pattern, hit him in stride at the Blue Devil 30, and watched as Johnson raced down the right sideline to the end zone to increase Morgan’s lead to 28-6 with 3:37 to play in the half.
Quarterback Braden Lankarge and the gutsy Blue Devils responded by launching a 54-yard, nine-play scoring drive, which ended on Lankarge’s 2-yard quarterback sneak with 17 seconds to play. Lankarge then hit Chris Progano with a two-point conversion pass that enabled the Devils to close to within 28-14 at the half.
Morgan took firm control of the game by scoring twice in the third quarter.
After the Huskies stopped a long Coginchaug drive off the second-half kickoff by recovering a fumble at their own 20, Nye completed seven straight passes, including three to Ethan Ranaudo and a spectacular 23-yard fingertip reception by Schmidt while falling into the end zone, to make it 36-14.
Three minutes later, on Morgan’s next possession, Nye engineered a 65-yard scoring drive that culminated in a 7-yard touchdown pass to Garbinski that left the Huskies sitting on a 44-14 lead as the third quarter ended.
The teams exchanged touchdowns in the final quarter with Morgan scoring on an 11-yard Nye-to-Ranaudo pass and Coginchaug answering with a 5-yard touchdown run by Lankarge to set the final score at 50-20.
Nye completed passes to six different receivers. Aside from Fratamico, Ranaudo hauled in nine for 61 yards and a touchdown, Garbinski caught eight for 87 yards and a score while Schmidt had four for 64 yards and two touchdowns. Garbinski also had a hand in four two-point conversions, catching two, rushing for another and passing for a fourth.
Toth finished with 135 yards rushing and a touchdown on 22 carries while Lankarge hit 6 of his 12 passes for 57 yards and rushed for a pair of TDs.
“We’ve now got a loss on our record so we’re going to find out what kind of team we are,” Eagle said. “We’re going to see how we respond to a little adversity, how well we can rebound.”
Sullivan, meanwhile, while saluting his quarterback and fleet of receivers, also insisted that his offensive line had earned a bit of praise for keeping Nye upright for most of the night. That line included Chris Carmona at center, Connor Loth and Dom Muce at guard and Logan Ryan and Jordan Armstrong at tackle.
CHREH…..0 14 0 6–20
Morgan…..16 12 16 6–50
M: Schmidt, 10-yard pass from Nye (Fratamico pass from Garbinski)
M: Fratamico, 13-yard pass from Nye (Garbinski pass from Nye)
CHREH: Toth, 27-yard run (pass failed)
M: Fratamico, 21-yard pass from Nye (pass failed)
M: Johnson, 42-yard pass from Nye (pass failed)
CHREH: Lankarge, 2-yard run (Progano pass from Lankarge)
M: Schmidt, 23-yard pass from Nye (Garbinski pass from Nye)
M: Garbinski, 7-yard pass from Nye (Garbinski rush)
M: Ranaudo, 11-yard pass from Nye (kick failed)
CHREH: Lankarge, 5-yard run (rush failed)