Rocky Hill's #75 Salvatore Signorello, #5 Ryan Bozzi, and #2 Sean Asante lead the Terriers onto McVicar Field
NBA legend Dominique Wilkins was nicknamed the Human Highlight Reel.
Rocky Hill football that its own Human Highlight Reel in quarterback Tyreice Dominique, who scored four touchdowns and ran for 162 yards as the Terriers defeated Hartford Public 27-15 last Friday night.
Dominique, who was making his home debut under center, found the end zone three times in the first half and added a dagger touchdown in the fourth.
“When Tyreice is on the field you have to plan for what he can do. Even when he’s not carrying the ball the defense is looking at him. They have to honor it because he is so athletic,” said Rocky Hill head coach Rich Dance.
For the humble Dominique, the credit goes to the guys paving the way, “It’s the line. I’d like to thank all the line and my teammates. Everyone was blocking, my receivers were blocking, that’s the only reason I had four touchdowns. It really isn't me, they made holes and I just ran through them.”
Rocky Hill’s undersized offensive line pushed around Hartford Public’s bulky defensive line. Center Gator Sjoblom anchored a line that also features starters Salvatore Signorello, Desmond Connolly, Grayson Spalding, and Christopher Adamczyk.
The unit allowed the Terriers to control the tempo from start to finish, totaling 247 rushing yards on 35 carries.
“Up front we knew they were going to be bigger than us and that doesn’t phase us. At Rocky Hill the teams are always bigger than us, but it’s about how we block and how we get to the angles and drive guys out. Those five guys have been in our system for three years,” Dance said of his offensive line, “Our game plan doesn’t change, our playbook doesn’t change. We’re going to run until someone stops us.”
The Terriers, who hadn’t hosted a game since mid-November 2019, were amped to play under the lights of McVicar Field. Following a season-opening win at East Catholic, the team had their scheduled home opener against Avon postponed due to COVID complications.
“This was probably the biggest game in four years for Rocky Hill. We knew we had to get this win to keep out moment going,” said defensive captain Alex Peruta, “We have a really supportive crown and wanted to come out in front of this crowd and win. It really motivated us.”
Eight minutes into the contest, Dominique found the end zone when he kept a read-option and scrambled 19 yards for the game’s opening score.
The Owls counter on the following possession when Traquan Hodge hauled in a beautiful 55-yard rainbow pass from TaSani Roach, providing the visitor their first and only lead at 7-6 with 1:50 to play in the first quarter.
The long touchdown strike was a rare breakdown for the Terriers, who stymied the potent Owls’ offense. Hartford Public enter Rocky Hill 2-0, having scored 57 total points in the two wins.
Peruta said the defense was ready for the challenge, “We widened out our defense. We figured out they kept trying to go outside, so if we widened out it bring everything back inside and it let the linebackers and the safeties come up to makes those plays. It really worked.”
Rocky Hill trailed for only three plays. Running back MJ Torres, who finished with 85 rushing yards, got the next drive going with a nine-yard run which was followed by a Dominique 50-yard dash down the right sideline to the one-yard line. On the next play, the senior signal caller kept it himself for the go-ahead score on the first play of the second quarter.
Ryan Bozzi broke up a fourth down pass on Hartford Public’s next possession and Dominique quickly went back to working, converting a third down by scampering 20 yards to keep the drive going, before breaking a pair of tackles and scoring from 16-yards out on the following play.
Up 21-7 with 9:10 left in regulation, Dominique put the finishing touches on his four-TD night by knifing up the middle and carrying a defender on his back into the end zone for a 23-yard score.
Dance praised Dominque’s effort, “He’s a senior, he’s a leader, he’s coachable and I must say to him two or three times a game, ‘hey Tyreice, just go win the game for us’.”
On the following possession, Hartford Public’s Christian Garcia scored from a yard out and ran in the two-point conversion to narrow the deficit to 27-15.
However, as he did all night, Dominique came up with one more highlight. The versatile quarterback, who also doubles as a defensive back, broke up a fourth down pass to end Hartford Public’s last offensive possession.
“It was just a great team win, we did it together,” said Dominique, “Shout out to Hartford, they are a great team, but also shout out to our defense.”
Dance agreed with his quarterback. The third-year coach said he was impressed with how his team played in all three phases.
Kicker/punter Body Troiano had a handful of booming kicks, which changed field position. Troiano is also a playmaking edge rusher, who made several keys stops defensively.
Dance said of the 6’3” Troiano, “He is a force on the outside. The kid has put it all together. He worked on his body, he’s in fantastic shape, he’s strong, he’s fast, and he can kick. Brody is a big part of our team.”
Rocky Hill’s defensive backfield had a busy night and was up to the challenge. Junior cornerback Frankie Guerrera, who is also the team’s leading receiver, broke up a pair of passes and had two tackles in the backfield.
“Nothing phases these guys, they’re just tough kids,” Dance said of the defensive mindset, “Most of those guys play both ways, so they stepped up to the occasion especially in a game like this with the size differential. We're incredibly proud of the way they performed tonight and excited for what is to come.”
The play that defined the night came on the final play of the first half. Hodge got behind the Terriers secondary and hauled in a deep pass from Garcia, but Peruta (who plays linebacker) tracked down and tackled the speedy receiver before he broke the goal line. The play would have been negated by a penalty for an illegal man downfield on the Owls, yet Peruta’s hustle showed the grittiness and heart of the Terriers.
“It’s that never give up attitude. Alex plays sideline to sideline, he’s a ball hawk and a downhill player. The sky is the limit for him,” said Dance, “Those plays can be the difference between a win and a loss.”
He continued, “It’s been a long time since Rocky Hill has had a win like this. We’re proud and we know there’s a lot of work to do but we are excited to see where the season is headed.”
Next is another tough home date against Notre Dame-Fairfield (1-1) on Friday, Oct 1 at 7:00.
“We look forward to challenge,” Dance said of the upcoming non-conference game “These guys are going to be ready. Our confidence is sky high but we have to keep working, it’s a long season.”
#7 Tyreice Dominique is flanked by MJ Torres / #1 Frankie Guerrera plays man coverage against HP's Jaheim Cole
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin