NEWTOWN — While it is usually an exciting matchup whenever a South-West Conference team faces a Southern Connecticut Conference, on Friday, West Haven and Newtown entered with a different focus.
The Blue Devils were looking for their first win of the season, being outscored 54-21 in their first two games. The Nighthawks were looking to extend a two-game win streak to start the season, outscoring its first two opponents 63-14.
The game had its excitement, and it took the Nighthawks a few possessions to get in an offensive rhythm, but Newtown was able to extend its win streak.
Miles Ricks had 88 yards rushing on 12 carries and scored two touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown, as No. 6 Newtown was able to hold on to a 21-14 win over West Haven at Blue and Gold Field.
— John Pierson (@JPPierson) September 28, 2019
“We had a slow start and having four turnovers in the first half wasn’t good,” Newtown coach Bob Pattison said. “At halftime I told the kids to calm down and just get back to basics and do your job. Rick is a very good running back. But our blocking was big, especially in that second half.
“Starting off 3-0 is great. But we need to get back to practice and work on some things. Turning the ball over four times in nis not good.”
In the first quarter, neither team moved the ball on their first possession. But the offense started to click for the Blue Devils on possession No. 2
A 12-yard run by Jaden Grant set up a first down at the Newtown 20. Four plays later, Andre Rentas bolted up the middle on a quarterback keeper and scored on an 8-yard run with 3:01 to go in the 1st quarter. Isaac Morales’ kick gave the Blue Devils a 7-0 lead.
Mistakes plagued the Nighthawks throughout the first half. They fumbled the ball away on their next two possessions.
But midway in the second quarter, thank to a West Haven turnover, the Nighthawks finally finished a deep drive to tie the game at 7. Ben Pinto intercepted a pass, returned it 35 yards and gave Newtown a first down at the West Haven 35. Eight plays later, Brandon Lombardo completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jeffrey Garrity. Devin O’Connell’s kick tied the game at 7 with 7:02 to go in the half.
Miscues continued for Newtown. On its next possession with a first down on its own 31, quarterback Jack Street dropped back to pass, was hit and fumbled the ball. West Haven defensive end Kasen Ligas-Nygien picked up the fumble and ran 15 yards for a defensive touchdown and 14-7 lead with 5:58 to go in the first half.
Newtown had a solid chance to tie the game before the half with a third down and the ball on the West Haven 11. But on the next play, Lombardo threw into the end zone and West Haven’s Tamayo Ferreira intercepted the ball to end the drive with 1:26 left in the half.
Newtown would rebound from that disappointment on its first possession in the second half. On the Nighthawks’ first possession in the third quarter, Miles bolted untouched for a 5-yard touchdown with 4:06 to go and tied the game at 14. The drive took 12 plays and covered 83 yards.
“West Haven is a very good team, they’re physical and they had the early momentum,” Ricks said. “But we came out to play in the second half. I came out and had the mindset that I just needed to get into the end zone. When I scored the first touchdown to tie it 14-14 we could see the momentum switching at that point. It really felt great when I scored to put us ahead.”
The Nighthawks opened the fourth quarter with another long drive (10 plays) to take their first lead of the game. Ricks caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Lombardo and O’Connell’s kick gave Newtown a 21-14 lead with 10:50 to go in the game.
“After losing last week, we wanted to get something going this week to turn things around,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said. “I was happy with our effort, but not happy with our execution. Right now at 0-3 we just need to take it one game at a time. We have a bye coming up and we could use that to work on some things.”
Rentas ended up completing 12-of-16 passes for 127 yards. He also rane for 45 yards and a touchdown.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Miles Ricks, Newtown, Running back: Rushed for 88 yards and scored two touchdown for the Nighthawks.
“As bad as we played in the first half, with four turnovers, to only be behind 14-7 was huge. It allowed us to get back in the game.”—Newtown coach Bob Pattison.