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Groton - The Norwich Free Academy football team beat Fitch on Friday, 40-14, thus making the game look like a rout.
The final result didn't necessarily show how tough Fitch made it for the Wildcats at times in an Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division game at Dorr Field. Nor did it show how hard the Wildcats made it on themselves.
NFA's talented duo of Boston College-bound Marcus Outlow and Khaleed Exum-Strong had little room to run in the first half. The smaller Falcons were also able to move the ball consistently.
Fitch trailed, 28-14, and had a second-and-6 from the Wildcats' 9 early in the fourth quarter.
Exum-Strong intercepted the ball in the end zone and returned it to the Falcons' 25.
Fitch was called for a personal foul, and its coaching staff protested that an illegal shift penalty called against it should have resulted in a dead ball foul. The penalty is not a dead-ball foul, however, according to the officials.
Outlow, who injured his ankle early in the game, hobbled for a 42-yard gain on the next play. He ran for an 11-yard touchdown two plays later.
Ramel Williams added a 4-yard touchdown run with over two minutes left.
The Wildcats were penalized nine times for 92 yards.
"While I'm not pleased in terms of the mistakes that we made and penalties, I'm pleased in our ability to finish," NFA coach Jemal Davis said.
Outlow ran 19 times for 136 yards with two touchdowns for NFA (2-0, 1-0), ranked third in The Day Top 10 state coaches' poll.
"Last year was the same thing - (Fitch) came out and punched us in the mouth," Outlow said. "We focused on being able to take that and respond well. It was just about the coaches making adjustments in the locker room at halftime."
Alex Beaudreault completed 4 of 13 passes for 136 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for the Wildcats. Colbey Davis (26 yards) and Williams (40 yards) caught the touchdowns.
Exum-Strong ran for a 10-yard touchdown. He also had two interceptions and a sack.
"What I was really impressed with in our guys is that we wore them down," Davis said. "In the end, we were staying consistent with our zone play, and we started gashing (them) because we knew we would wear them down with our physical presence."
Robert Duncan ran for a 1-yard touchdown and threw a 4-yard touchdown to Devante Anderson for Fitch (1-2, 0-1)
John Moscol ran 12 times for 78 yards for the Falcons and Bobby Johnston added 18 carries for 71 yards.
"The first half, we were moving the ball like we should, like we planned to," Fitch coach Jordan Panucci said. "The second half, we had some outside forces that disrupted our tempo and really knocked the winds our of sails that we couldn't control.
"They're a good team. I think we played them very well, I think we played them better than they expected. I'm proud of our guys."