NORWICH — Austin Richards missed his entire junior season at Norwich Free Academy with an arm injury and didn’t really get back to throwing with his receivers until January.
He spent the last eight months catching up, playing pitch and catch with NFA’s talented returning receiving corps. Two games into the 2019 season, they still look like they’re playing backyard ball.
Richards, a 6-foot-4, 170-pound senior, etched his name into the school record book, throwing for 482 yards and five touchdowns as the Wildcats roared back from an early deficit to defeat the Tomahawks 41-30 at NFA.
Four of Richards’ five TD strikes were all from 70-or-more yards out. He even added a 56-yard touchdown run late in the game.
All told, Richards finished 25-of-33 passing. Andrew Cote caught scoring passes from 80 and 70 yards out, another went to Maxson Pierre-Louis for 77 yards out and a fourth to Nolan Molkenthin from 71 yards away.
His total passing yardage were the most in a single game in NFA’s long football history and 16th-most all-time according to the Connecticut High School football record book.
With Richards and his receivers locked in, NFA didn’t even run a designed run play until just under 10 minutes left. NFA’s second run play was a scramble Richards took to the house to put the Tomahawks away.
It looked as if Glastonbury would be game early. Quarterback Greg Perry started an early scoring binge with a 30-yard touchdown strike to Quinn Cummings. Glastonbury’s Brett Nelson sacked Richards and pounced on a fumble, leading to a short scoring run by Brandon Meyers to put the Tomahawks up 14-7.
But Richards merely hit Pierre-Louis in stride down the left sideline to tie the game and then threw a pedestrian 5-yard score to Damien Bleau.
NFA never trailed again and preserved a 27-14 halftime lead by stopping Glastonbury at the 1-yard line.
At the half Richards had completed 15 of 21 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns.
NFA is now 2-0 as it heads to face No. 6-ranked Shelton at Finn Stadium Friday night. Glastonbury fell to 1-1.