H.S. football: Wildcats are cool in the clutch
Norwich - Norwich Free Academy coach Jemal Davis wanted to see how his football team would respond to adversity, having won its first two games comfortably.
On Saturday, the Wildcats proved they could excel under pressure, too.
NFA stopped Fitch on a potential game-winning two-point conversion with just over six minutes left and went on to win 34-27 in a game between two unbeaten Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division teams.
"We looked at this game as the one that was going to test us," Davis said. "And if things go wrong, how do we respond?
"Fitch is a seasoned team. We knew that we were going to have to fight."
NFA is 3-1, 2-0.
Fitch' Devante Anderson scored on a 1-yard run to cut NFA's lead to 28-27. The Falcons then opted to go for the two-point conversion and the Wildcats helped them get closer to the end zone by jumping offsides twice.
NFA stopped Anderson, though.
"I thought it was a good call because (the game) was going back and forth," Davis said of Fitch going for two. "That would've given some momentum.
"We went offsides twice and moved the ball to basically the half-inch line. I really think it actually gave us an advantage because we knew they were going to run the quarterback keeper, so we put everybody in the box."
Fitch (2-1, 1-1) tied the game at 21 in the third quarter, but NFA's Marcus Outlow ran for a 62-yard touchdown on the first play of the ensuing series to give the Wildcats a 28-21 lead.
Outlow ran 11 times for 103 yards and a touchdown and also caught a 46-yard touchdown pass.
"He was having that kind of day," Davis said. "Big play after big play."
Khaleed Exum-Strong (8 carries, 60 yards) iced the game for the Wildcats with a 2-yard touchdown run with 2:09 left.
Joey Paparelli ran 11 times for 93 yards for NFA and threw two touchdowns, the second to Ryer Caruso (35 yards).
John Kelly gave NFA a 7-0 lead in the first quarter when he recovered Outlow's fumble in the end zone.
Saffwan Davis ran 26 times for 137 yards for the Fitch and Anderson ran for two touchdowns. John Moscol (1 yard) and Lexus Gordon (52 yards) also ran for touchdowns.
NFA plays at Ledyard Friday (6:30 p.m.) while Fitch plays host to Woodstock Academy.
"I don't feel any different (about my kids) than I had in the beginning of the season," Davis said. "I believed in our kids before this game. I think it was important for them to feel good about themselves. What they can take away from this game is knowing that they can handle adversity."
In other games:
• Alex Beaudreault ran for one touchdown and passed for another as Windham handed Ledyard its first loss, 21-14, in an ECC Medium Division game.
Beaudreault's 1-yard touchdown run broke a 7-7 tie in the second quarter and he threw a 43-yard scoring pass to Dakota Fleming later in the quarter to give the Whippets (2-1, 1-0) a 21-7 halftime lead. Christian Clarke added 132 rushing yards on 15 carries for Windham.
Adam Hildebrandt had a 1-yard TD run for Ledyard (2-1, 1-1) in the first quarter and John Rainey threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Evan August in the fourth quarter.
• Justin Cheverier ran 13 times for 139 yards and five touchdowns and added 22 tackles as Valley Regional/Old Lyme beat Old Saybrook 33-17 in a Pequot Sassacus game. Phil Cohen ran 12 times for 112 yards for Valley/Old Lyme (2-1, 2-1). The Rams are 1-1, 1-1.
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