Southington overpowers mistake-prone NFA 52-14

Norwich Free Academy teammates Francis McMahon, left, Stephen Agnatovech, top, and Marc D'Elia, right, console Ramel Williams Tuesday in the closing minutes of the CIAC Class LL football quarterfinal against Southington at Southington High School. Southington defeated NFA 52-14. It was a tough night for the Eastern Connecticut Conference, as Ledyard, New London and NFA fell in lopsided fashion, while Valley Regional/Old Lyme - representing the Pequot Football Conference - advanced to the Class M semifinals with a 48-3 victory over Quinebaug Valley. For complete coverage, see D1.
Norwich Free Academy teammates Francis McMahon, left, Stephen Agnatovech, top, and Marc D'Elia, right, console Ramel Williams Tuesday in the closing minutes of the CIAC Class LL football quarterfinal against Southington at Southington High School. Southington defeated NFA 52-14. It was a tough night for the Eastern Connecticut Conference, as Ledyard, New London and NFA fell in lopsided fashion, while Valley Regional/Old Lyme - representing the Pequot Football Conference - advanced to the Class M semifinals with a 48-3 victory over Quinebaug Valley. For complete coverage, see D1. Tim Cook/The Day Buy Photo

Southington - Norwich Free Academy's football season came to a crashing halt in the CIAC Class LL quarterfinals Tuesday night.

The fifth-seeded Wildcats contributed to their own demise in a 52-14 loss to No. 4 Southington at Fontana Field.

They committed 14 penalties, failed to contain a high-octane offense, missed numerous tackles and allowed nine sacks. They also had two turnovers and had a punt partially blocked.

Yes, it was that ugly.

"We weren't prepared," NFA coach Jemal Davis said. "Giving up 52 points is not something that we do. They were better prepared. … Obviously, we had way too many penalties from the beginning.

"That comes back to the head coach. We can't have that. That's unacceptable."

The Wildcats (8-3) allowed a season high for points. They were no match for the Blue Knights (10-1), especially with star running back Marcus Outlow ineffective due to injury.

Outlow, who has committed to Boston College, watched most of the game from the sideline. He had just eight yards on three carries before limping off the field late in the first quarter after injuring his left ankle on a running play.

At the time, the Wildcats trailed 3-0.

"I was ready to go tonight, but unfortunately things happen," Outlow said.

Outlow accused Southington of playing dirty.

"Under the pile, I was getting my whole leg twisted," he said. "I don't know if it was on purpose or an accident. But I had my leg twisted and I felt it. And I heard other guys chiming in telling them to keep twisting it more.

"I'm not trying to make excuses because I'm not an excuse guy. It's just sad. They're a good football team and they don't have to play dirty."

NFA had other issues, like trying to contain Southington, which scored on its last three possessions of the second quarter to take a 24-0 halftime lead.

Southington quarterback Stephen Barmore passed for three touchdowns and senior Tyler Hyde rushed for 147 yards and four touchdowns. The Blue Knights advanced to the semifinals to meet No. 8 Ridgefield, a 35-33 upset winner over No. 1 Newtown, at 2 p.m. Saturday at West Haven.

"They played an outstanding game," Davis said. "I was really impressed with how they played defensively and offensively. We knew they were going to be good."

If not for self-inflicted wounds and Outlow's absence, the Wildcats may have had at least a shot at making the game competitive.

After Southington capped the game's opening drive with Kyle Smick's 30-yard field goal, NFA stopped the Blue Knights on the next two drives.

Then the Wildcats mounted their best drive, going from their own 12 to the Southington 3. Khaleed Exum-Strong accounted for 26 yards and quarterback Alex Beaudreault connected with Griffen Gooden on a 35-yard pass play.

But NFA failed to score after setting up first-and-goal from the 9. Jordon Martell's 20-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left.

Some bad penalties contributed to Southington's first scoring drive. NFA was called for pass interference and unsportsmanlike conduct on one play.

Two plays later, Hyde broke up the middle for a 6-yard touchdown run.

"First of all, you don't get beat," Davis said of the double penalty play. "Second, if you get beat, you get back and play. Third, you don't mouth off to the official. It's a bad reflection of the program. Again, that goes on me, not the kid."

Southington turned up the defensive heat, sacking Beaudreault five times in NFA's last three series of the second quarter. Barmore hooked up with Zach Maxwell on a 50-yard touchdown pass.

Then, after Southington partially blocked a punt to gain field position at the NFA 26, Barmore threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Alex Jamele for a 24-0 lead.

Southington continued to dominate in the second half.

Trailing 31-0, NFA finally scored with 6:38 left in the third quarter.

Beaudreault threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Ramel Williams. The pair connected again from one yard out in the fourth quarter. Beaudreault passed for 162 yards overall and rushed for 73.

g.keefe@theday.com

NFA's Khaleed Exum Strong leaps for extra yardage after getting tangled up with Southington's Alex Jamele during Tuesday night's Class L quarterfinal game at Southington. The fourth-seeded Blue Knights routed the No. 5 Wildcats 52-14.
NFA's Khaleed Exum Strong leaps for extra yardage after getting tangled up with Southington's Alex Jamele during Tuesday night's Class L quarterfinal game at Southington. The fourth-seeded Blue Knights routed the No. 5 Wildcats 52-14. Tim Cook/The Day Buy Photo
NFA's Ramel Williams gets knocked out of bounds by Alex Jamele of Southington during the first quarter Tuesday night. Williams scored both TDs for the Wildcats in a 52-14 loss in the Class LL quarterfinals.
NFA's Ramel Williams gets knocked out of bounds by Alex Jamele of Southington during the first quarter Tuesday night. Williams scored both TDs for the Wildcats in a 52-14 loss in the Class LL quarterfinals. Tim Cook/ The Day Buy Photo
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