GLASTONBURY — Facing a pair of Division 1 college-talented running backs, one of whom is heading to Boston College next year, the Glastonbury defense bent a little bit on Friday night, but never broke.
The Tomahawks kept No. 3 Norwich Free Academy’s dynamic running back tandem of Marcus Outlow and Khaleed Exum-Strong – and, for that matter, every other Wildcat player – out of the end zone in a stirring, 6-0 victory at Glastonbury High.
NFA gained 178 yards on the ground but never really broke off any big plays as the Glastonbury defense swarmed on BC-bound Outlow, Exum-Strong and Romel Williams. Outlow gained 78 yards on 19 carries but only two runs of more than 10 yards (each covering 14 yards), while Exum-Strong was limited to 32 yards on eight handles.
“Those guys are good players,” Glastonbury coach Scott Daniels said. “You want to focus on them and load up the box, but those guys still make plays. There’s a reason why they went to the state championship game last year, because they’ve got some good players.”
The game was a scoreless tie early into the fourth quarter before Tomahawk quarterback Jalen Ollie engineered an eight-play, 80-yard drive to finally break the stalemate. Ollie completed five of seven passes on the sequence, including a 34-yarder to Ethan Ericson, and capped it with a six-yard scoring hook-up with Kyran McKinney-Crudden.
“It was a little swing (pass),” said Daniels. “They were coming off the edge, blitzing. We kind of drew that up in the sand and said, let’s swing the back. We ran that twice. The linebacker came and didn’t cover him and we were able to get it in there and make the play.”
McKinney-Crudden’s extra-point attempt missed, but Glastonbury held NFA to three-and-out on each of its ensuing drives. The Wildcats had one last-ditch effort with a little over a minute to go, taking over on its own 25. Quarterback Alex Beaudreault connected with Williams on a 37-yard pass, by far his longest of the game, to bring the ball deep into Glastonbury territory. But with 46 seconds left, Beaudreault’s pass was picked off by Ericson inside the 10 – the only turnover of the game – to put a rather fitting end to the contest.
Glastonbury of the CCC improved to 3-1, while NFA of the ECC fell to 2-1.
“I told them at halftime, we’re bending, but let’s not break,” Daniels said. “Let’s keep them out of the house. We did that. We gave up tons of field position, they gashed us on the run, got the ball inside the red zone. But at the end of the day, they didn’t score.”
Ollie completed 9 of 17 passes for 106 yards. Beaudreault hit on just 7 of 19 passes for 77 yards.