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Newtown High School’s football team battled back from early- and late-game three-touchdown holes but ultimately could not dig themselves out in a 35-28 loss to visiting Shelton on October 13.
Visiting Shelton capitalized on early chances and host Newtown’s risk taking to build a 21-0 first-quarter lead at Blue & Gold Stadium.
This was an interconference battle but a familiar matchup between the Southern Connecticut Conference Gaels and the South-West Conference’s Nighthawks. The teams met in the state playoffs in each of the past couple of years with Shelton winning both battles.
It looked as if the Gaels would have their way in the second encore but the Nighthawks battled back from 28-7 down to eventually make it a one-score game with possession and a chance to tie the game.
The Nighthawks attempted an onside kick to start the game. Shelton recovered, cashed in, and seized early control.
“We took chances early, they made some big plays and our kids responded,” Newtown Coach Bobby Pattison said. “Unfortunately, we made mistakes early on and they capitalized.”
“They faced some adversity, we faced some and our kids responded,” said Shelton offensive coordinator Mike DeFelice, who served as interim lead coach for the contest with regular head coach Jeff Roy absent because of a leg injury.
Leading 21-0 late in the first quarter, Shelton was looking for more, driving in Newtown territory when Newtown’s Shea Talbot intercepted a pass.
A 69-yard catch and run by Jack Miller late in the first set up Newtown’s first score, on the opening play of the second quarter. Newtown quarterback Ryan Kost found Riley Ward in the end zone from eight yards out just 11 seconds into the quarter.
Shelton responded on Tyler Janik’s three-yard score just 2:05 later.
Newtown answered back, only 37 seconds later, on Miller’s 54-yard TD catch over the middle, making the score 28-14 with 9:07 remaining in the opening half.
The Nighthawks threatened to close the gap before the break but the Gaels came up with some big defensive plays, including an interception and quarterback sack to thwart late-half drives.
“We needed points there,” said Pattison, whose team trailed 28-14 at the half.
Both defenses were in bend but don’t break mode in the third quarter and neither team scored again until the fourth.
Shelton built a 35-14 with 10:16 to play.
Once again, Newtown responded within seconds.
Kost threw a pass to Joe Pagett for a 33-yard score, making it 35-21 with 9:47 to go.
Newtown took over on downs and Kost again connected with Pagett, who bounced and spun off would-be tacklers for a 69-yard scoring play, bringing the tally to 35-28 with 3:56 left.
“It looked like we were going to shut the door on them and they did an outstanding job of responding,” DeFelice said of the Nighthawks.
The Gaels recovered an onside kick at the Shelton 49. After a Shelton punt gave Newtown the ball at its own 43 with 2:43 left, the Hawks could not move the ball past the Shelton 41.
Pattison was pleased with the play of Newtown’s offensive line, which worked hard to create running lanes and time for Kost to drop back and find receivers.
Read more about the game in the October 20 print edition of The Bee.