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Newtown’s fifth-grade football team came back from a 14-point deficit in the second quarter against the top-ranked team in the league, Cheshire, for a 27-22 win on November 5, and earned a spot in the Shoreline Conference championship game.
Though poised to take an early lead, the Hawks suffered a setback when star running back Gavin Walker fumbled at the goal line and Cheshire scored a touchdown on the next possession. But the Hawks did no go quietly. After a 15-yard sweep by Jayden Taylor set up the Hawks at the 30, quarterback Gian Iacuele took matters into his own hands and scored on a 30-yard scramble to tie the game. But the real test was yet to come. Cheshire’s next two possessions resulted in touchdowns and the Hawks found themselves down two scores.
Some players might lose their courage after a costly fumble and seeing their team in trouble, but not Gavin Walker. His 65-yard catch-and-run set up the Hawks near the Cheshire red zone. Then, after three failed attempts to advance the ball and facing a fourth down that could decide the game, wide receiver Taylor sped past his coverage and Iacuele hit him for a perfect 25-yard touchdown pass to bring the Hawks closer. Sensing an opportunity, the Hawk defense stiffened and forced a turnover on downs thanks to some big tackles by Kenna Gioffre, CJ St Louis, and Will Carley. Two plays later, Walker rewarded the team’s faith in him and busted a 30-yard touchdown rush though a gaping hole between blockers Nate Crone and Wes Keayes. Cheshire tried to regain the momentum on the next drive with some confusing formations, but was stopped by a Crone tackle and a quarterback sack by Sam Kennel as time expired in the first half.
Continuing their momentum from the first half, the Hawks’ first play of the second half was a 49-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Drew Bradley that gave the Hawks the lead for the first time in the game, and they would not lose it. A booming kickoff by Will McManus helped pin Cheshire deep in its own territory. This turned out to be critical as the rest of the game was a defensive battle for field position. The fourth quarter started with Cheshire marching deep into Hawks territory, but linebacker Ryan Schoffstall shot the gap for a critical tackle and a tackle by Crone on the next play forced yet another turnover on downs. The struggle continued with more tackles by John Kitay and Brady Brosius, game-saving tackles by Ayden Paulos, and longs punts by Bradley. Finally, with little time left on the clock, Cheshire tried a desperation pass deep downfield that was intercepted by Bradley to end the game and send the Hawks to the championship game against North Haven.