Dizzying proportions: NFA offense lights up

Norwich Free Academy's Marcus Outlow celebrates with friends on the NFA sideline Wednesday night after NFA defeated Newtown, 63-21, in the Class LL state quarterfinal in Newtown.
Norwich Free Academy's Marcus Outlow celebrates with friends on the NFA sideline Wednesday night after NFA defeated Newtown, 63-21, in the Class LL state quarterfinal in Newtown. Tim Cook/The Day Buy Photo

Newtown - Joey Paparelli took a moment to think when asked to remember just how many touchdowns he and his Norwich Free Academy teammates dropped on Newtown in the third quarter of Wednesday night's CIAC Class LL quarterfinal game.

"(My) interception was the first quarter," Paparelli, NFA's senior quarterback said. "No, (that was the) second quarter. I scored one or two. One, maybe? Marcus (Outlow), two or three?

"So maybe we had four or five touchdowns?"

Excuse Paparelli for not knowing the exact number. He and the Wildcats put on a dizzying display in the third.

NFA scored five third-quarter touchdowns and completely dominated the Nighthawks, 63-21, at Blue and Gold Stadium.

"You don't see a team like that often," Newtown coach Steve George said. "It was hard to catch up with them. They got to the corner really fast. We weren't used to that.

"It was a very impressive group of kids."

The fifth-seeded Wildcats (11-0), ranked eighth in The Day's Top 10 state coaches' poll, will play top-seeded Staples in Sunday's semifinals at a site and time to be announced today.

Staples (10-0) is the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic champion.

Fourth-seeded Newtown, the South-West Conference champion finished 10-1. It was ranked seventh.

Newtown's Cooper Gold scored on a 1-yard run with seven seconds left in the first half to cut the Nighthawks' deficit in half, 28-14. The drive was aided by four successive penalties on NFA.

Then the Wildcats got the ball to start the second half ... and proceeded to rattle off five touchdowns in a little over 10 minutes.

It was the fourth-most points scored in a CIAC playoff game.

"We felt team speed-wise that we might have had the advantage," Wildcats coach Jemal Davis said in the night's greatest understatement.

Outlow ran 14 times for 169 yards and a touchdown. He also caught two passes for touchdowns of 51 and 65 yards. Ryer Caruso, NFA's top receiver, threw both touchdowns.

Paparelli had 16 carries for 102 yards and two touchdowns. He also returned an interception 39 yards for another score.

Khaleed Exum-Strong ran nine times for 41 yards and two touchdowns.

"We looked at their schedule," Outlow said, "and we knew from the start that they would have problems with our offense because they didn't really have anyone with the caliber of weapons as us. We just have so many weapons."

NFA ran 38 times for 307 yards. Note that they ran backwards, or took knees, for minus-21 yards to end the game. Newtown had botched a punt exchange, giving the Wildcats the ball at its 2.

"Our offensive line just dominated the game," Paparelli said. "They were making humongous holes. We would go untouched into the end zone, and I give them credit for everything."

Cody Brown (right tackle), Noah Brown and Colby Britt (right guard), John Crooks (center), J.P. Kelly (left guard) and Tyler Beauchesne (left tackle) comprised the Wildcats' line.

NFA's Ramel Williams scored on a 47-yard punt return.

The Wildcats devastated Newtown defensively, too. The Nighthawks had 94 yards. That included minus-43 yards rushing by quarterback Andrew Tarantino as he was sacked five times (twice by Tuzar Skipper).

Newtown also lost 28 yards on the punt exchange.

During the decisive third quarter, Caruso lined up at quarterback on second-and-5 and threw a 51-yard touchdown to Outlow.

The Nighthawks went three-and-out.

Williams returned the punt for a touchdown.

Two touchdowns in 40 seconds.

Outlow scored again on a 65-yard catch and 58-yard run. Paparelli added a 34-yard touchdown run.

"I really felt that our speed was going to overwhelm (Newtown)," Davis said.

n.griffen@theday.com

Norwich Free Academy's Khaleed Exum-Strong ran for two touchdowns in the first quarter of Wednesday's 63-21 Class LL quarterfinal victory over Newtown.
Norwich Free Academy's Khaleed Exum-Strong ran for two touchdowns in the first quarter of Wednesday's 63-21 Class LL quarterfinal victory over Newtown. Tim Cook/The Day Buy Photo
NFA's Steven Makowicki prepares to put a hit on Newtown quarterback Andrew Tarantino for a sack during the third quarter of Wednesday's Class LL quarterfinal victory over Newtown. NFA remained unbeaten at 11-0.
NFA's Steven Makowicki prepares to put a hit on Newtown quarterback Andrew Tarantino for a sack during the third quarter of Wednesday's Class LL quarterfinal victory over Newtown. NFA remained unbeaten at 11-0. Tim Cook/The Day Buy Photo
Norwich Free Academy's Tuzar Skipper, left, and Ramel Williams celebrate the Wildcats' 63-21 victory over Newtown on Wednesday in the Class LL state tournament quarterfinals in Newtown.
Norwich Free Academy's Tuzar Skipper, left, and Ramel Williams celebrate the Wildcats' 63-21 victory over Newtown on Wednesday in the Class LL state tournament quarterfinals in Newtown. Tim Cook/The Day Buy Photo
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