STONINGTON — To put it bluntly, neither Stonington High nor Killingly was particularly sharp in the first half of their ECC Division III football showdown Friday night.
Coming off its bye week, Stonington hadn't played since Oct. 1. The Bears' first two plays were an errant shotgun snap for 9-yard loss and a fumbled pitchout that sent them backward by 3 yards.
Killingly, meanwhile, was seeing its first action in three weeks. It had a false start on its first play and later lost two fumbles in scoring territory.
Hardly sharp, indeed. But at least Killingly had Jack Sharpe. The stocky 220-pound senior back methodically ran for 190 yards on 25 carries, with a long run of 18 yards, and scored five touchdowns. His production, aided by a host of 280- to 320-pound bodyguards, carried Killingly to a 32-7 win at Palmer Field.
The victory kept the Redmen (4-0, 1-0 Division III) undefeated. They were tied for ninth in the most recent GameTimeCT state poll.
Killingly trailed 7-0 midway through the first quarter after Stonington quarterback Lucian Tedeschi ran 55 yards to set up his 10-yard TD run. Killingly then shut down Stonington (3-2, 2-1) the rest of the way with its trademark physical style of pounding away.
Four Stonington starters left the game with injuries, including Josh Mooney, the versatile wingback/defensive end. His loss was also felt in the kicking game.
"We're a physical football team," Killingly coach Chad Neal said. "I was afraid of being rusty early, and we were. But we withstood the storm, had some fun playing football and won a good game on the road."
Seeing opposing players hobble off the field is nothing new for Killingly, which beat East Lyme and Waterford by identical 42-14 scores.
"We've become used to overpowering teams with our strength," said Sharpe, who gained more than 2,000 yards as a sophomore during Killingly's Class M final run in 2019. "We hit hard and don't care who is in the way."
Stonington, coming off a dominant three-game winning streak over rebuilding squads, actually gave Killingly its toughest game. But after Tedeschi's two option runs covered over 60 yards for the early score, the Bears made just two more first downs.
Long Killingly drives, Stonington turnovers and three-and-outs gave Killingly a huge edge in time of possession.
"We expected Killingly to try to wear us out physically," Stonington coach A.J. Massengale said. "That started to happen, and we didn't deal with it and face adversity well. We can play better than we did. There were a number of correctable things."
Up 7-0 late in the first quarter, Stonington lost a fumble at its 15, leading to Sharpe's 14-yard touchdown to make it 7-6. On its next possession in the second quarter, Killingly capitalized on a short Bears punt, with Mooney out, to drive 15 yards and score on Sharpe's 6-yard run for a 12-7 lead.
Sharpe's 3-yard run with 1:19 left in the half made it 18-7.
Killingly took the second half kickoff and drove 53 yards in six plays to score on Sharpe's 16-yard run for a 25-7 lead. Sharpe's last score came in the fourth quarter on a 5-yard run.
Killingly completed just one pass for 25 yards. Fullback Soren Reif added 83 yards on the ground. Stonington barely cracked 120 yards in total offense with Tedeschi's 88 rushing yards leading the way. Linebacker Jack Zuro led the defensive effort with 11 tackles. Matt Castigliuolo and Luke Lowry recovered fumbles.
The Bears next face another undefeated team, Ledyard, at home Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.