BROOKFIELD – There was no joy on the Newtown football players’ faces as they racked up the touchdowns Friday night. No high fives. No smiles.
They were strict orders from coach Steve George: No one’s could be happy until they finished the job. The Nighthawks had been too content for his liking.
Newtown, frustrated for failing to score in the second half of its first two games, obeyed with a stoic 35-7 SWC road victory over Brookfield. Up 21-0 at halftime, Newtown broke its bad second-half habits and put Brookfield away with a pair of touchdowns.
“That was my halftime message,” said George, whose team improved to 3-0. “I didn’t want them to come out flat like they did in our first two games. We scored 26 points in the first half against Pomperaug, and they were happy with that. We were up 22-0 against Bethel, they were happy. We didn’t come out and keep playing hard. We needed to work on that and we did.”
Julian Dunn caught a pair of touchdown passes from Drew Tarantino and Cooper Gold scored three on the ground, including two important scores in the second half.
“In the first two games we weren’t happy the next day,” Dunn said. “Yeah we got W, but… it almost seemed like we were quitting in the second half. We wanted to come out to day and show we can play four dominant quarters.”
It helped that Newtown’s defense has been consistent all year. This might have been its best performance to date. The Hawks swarmed sophomore back Bobby Drysdale, and harassed senior quarterback Brad Westmark. They forced turnovers on Brookfield’s first two drives of the game, held Brookfield to under 200 yards of offense and didn’t allow a score until the reserves came in for mop-up duty.
Brookfield, which came in averaging over 400 yards a game in wins over Pomperaug and Bunnell, fell to 2-1.
“Our defense played outstanding,” George said. “I would say we held them to 60 yards until we put our reserves in. That’s what we expected them to do. We worked on our reads all week and our linebackers keys and the kids responded tonight.”
Newtown’s offense, meanwhile, was its usual, unstoppable self in the first half. Dunn caught a 14-yard lob touchdown from Tarantino for a 7-0 first-quarter lead. Gold scored on a 10 yard run early in the second.
The Hawks made it 21-0 when Tarantino, evading a pass rush, stepped up and hit Dunn on the right sideline. Dunn took the pass 55 yards across the field for the score.
“We played terrible pass defense,” Brookfield coach Rich Angarano said. “I know the kid makes things happen and No. 4 (Tarantino) is a great player. But we played terrible pass defense.”
Dunn, a 6-foot-2 junior end, finished with three catches for 80 yards. Tarantino had 200 yards passing.
“It’s awesome,” Tarantino said of working with Dunn. “If they’re going to single-cover him it’s almost an automatic touchdown. Then they have to bring a guy out of the box and when they do that, we’re confident in giving it to Cooper or our other receivers.”
Newtown took the second half kickoff and scored on Gold’s 2-yard touchdown catch. He tacked on a 10-yard run.
Dunn and Nick Lotrecchiano had interceptions. Jaret Devellis had a sack and a forced fumble. Josh Krapf led the charges on the front seven.
“That’s quite a team,” Angarano said. “It was a good ol’ fashioned butt-whooping.”
But no one in a Newtown uniform smiled until the clock hit 0:00.
Then they could feel happy.
“We haven’t been playing to our potential first two games of the year,” Tarantino said. “And finally we came out strong and put them away. That was definitely a change this year. I’m happy that we did that.”
Newtown 7 14 6 8 — 35
Brookfield 0 0 0 7 — 7
N — Julian Dunn 14 pass from Drew Tarantino (Dunn kick)
N — Cooper Gold 10 run (kick failed)
N — Dunn 55 pass from Tarantino (Gold run)
N — Gold 2 pass from Tarantino (pass failed)
N — Gold 8 run (Gold run)
B — Bobby Drysdale 24 run (Dane Borges kick)