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Glastonbury stops NFA cold 24-0

Norwich - It is the blessing and the curse of playing football in the Eastern Connecticut Conference: The ability to fatten the win total without necessarily exposing enough warts that will further improvement.

Such was the case for Norwich Free Academy against Glastonbury on Thursday night. The Wildcats (2-1) had defeated East Lyme and Waterford, a combined 0-6. Glastonbury, meanwhile, suffered gut-busting losses to No. 2 Southington and unbeaten Hall.

Final score: Glastonbury 24, NFA 0.

"Does playing Southington prepare you for a game like this? No question," Glastonbury coach Scott Daniels said. "Nothing against East Lyme and Waterford, but they're not Southington and Hall."

Glastonbury's preparedness was evident from the first play from scrimmage when Glastonbury senior Donevin O'Reilly ran left and went untouched 67 yards for a touchdown. The Tomahawks (2-2) allowed NFA to cross the 50-yard line once.

NFA senior Khaleed Exum-Strong, who entered the game with nearly 600 yards rushing, finished with 60 yards. Two bad snaps and other plays for negative yardage, though, gave the Wildcats a total of 16 total yards for the game.

"We told the kids all week that we needed to stop the run," Daniels said. "That kid (Exum-Strong) can run. He's one of the best players we'll see all year. Hats off to our defense."

NFA's defense held firm for most of the game, finally wilting at the end. It was 10-0 deep into the third period, although the NFA offense never threatened.

"They were good up front," NFA coach Jemal Davis said. "We were never able to get on schedule."

NFA's best chance came on its first possession of the second half.

Exum-Strong ran the ball into Glastonbury territory until a bad snap cost NFA 13 yards. NFA was stuffed on a fourth-and-seven at midfield.

"If we get Khaleed going, it opens up other things," Davis said. " … But at some point, we're going to have to be able to throw the football."

Chika Chukwu caught a 27-yard touchdown pass to give the Tomahawks a 17-0 lead before O'Reilly scored again late.

"I think our defense showed some resilience," Davis said. "We only have up 10 points for a while and they were down in the red zone a few times. We responded on defense like we should. But the offense just couldn't get anything going."

m.dimauro@theday.com

Twitter: @BCgenius

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