Unbeaten Fitch takes sole possession of first place in ECC Div. I with 33-20 win over New London
Groton — The narrative for Fitch High School football this season — aside from overall resurgence — has been a clever option offense that's been a pain in the asphalt for opponents to stop.
It has also been something of a deodorant, covering some unseemly aromas from an inconsistent defense.
But there was a reason defensive coordinator Jordan Panucci stood on the field with a hint of a grin Friday night. His kids, continuing to show improvement, played quite well during a 33-20 win over New London before 1,800 fans at Dorr Field.
The victory, combined with East Lyme's loss, moved Fitch (7-0, 2-0) into sole possession of first place in Division I of the Eastern Connecticut Conference.
"There's really been improvement," Fitch coach Mike Ellis said of his defense that allowed two late scores after the game had well been decided. "They are communicating better and playing very hard."
Cornerback Justice Farris, who had an interception, said his teammates had all the motivation they needed during the week on social media.
"They were talking," Farris said of New London. "We had to stay humble. We definitely didn't need to be keyboard warriors."
Farris joined teammates Pedro Mojica, Sal Aiello and Nick Helbig with big defensive plays in the second half. Good thing, too. Because this was a 6-6 game at halftime.
"I thought the kids were a little uptight," Ellis said. "We told them to relax and just play. That was the theme all week. Just play."
Hollis Scott scored the first of his four second-half touchdowns on a 3-yard pass from Tyler Nelli to give Fitch a 13-6 lead midway through the third period. If nothing else, the score fortified Ellis' halftime speech.
"That was huge," Ellis said.
Scott scored on runs of 5, 56 and 4 yards, finishing with 130 rushing yards overall.
Nelli also threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Hamear Stephens in the first quarter.
New London quarterback Owen George tied the game on a short touchdown run in the second period and later hit Elijah Parker and Gio Lopez with touchdown passes.
"You make a mistake here, miss an assignment there, those are the kinds of things that happen. One of those years," New London coach Juan Roman said.
The Whalers are 1-6 and 0-2 in the division.
Fitch, meanwhile, has a bye week to prepare for what will be the ECC's feature game of the season Nov. 10 at East Lyme.
"We have two weeks to get ready," Farris said. "We really need to make sure practices are good and we pay attention."
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