NFA ousted by Newtown in LL quarterfinals

Newtown — The first half went like this for the Norwich Free Academy football team on Wednesday night:

• One first down.

• Starting quarterback Jayden Desilus had been knocked out of the game.

• A late fumble at the NFA 30-yard allowed Newtown to score its third touchdown.

It didn’t get much better for the eighth-seeded Wildcats as they were thumped by top-seeded Newtown, 35-0, in a CIAC Class LL quarterfinal at Blue and Gold Field.

“They were pretty physical,” NFA senior Andrew Cote said. “We knew they were going to be physical, but I don’t think we were ready for their front seven. They dominated up front. (There was) not much time to throw.

“Not our best game.”

The Wildcats (7-4) ran 44 offensive plays for 81 yards, 54 of which came on their final drive.

Newtown (11-0), ranked third in The Day Top 10 state coaches’ poll, will host No. 4 Simsbury in next Monday’s semifinals at 6:30 p.m.

Simsbury (10-1) edged No. 5 Cheshire, 17-14, in its quarterfinal. Cheshire was ranked ninth in the Top 10, the Trojans were not.

The Nighthawks would allow NFA just five first downs, three of which came on its final drive.

Fittingly, Newtown’s Jack Mulligan sacked junior Max Davidson on fourth-and-2 at the Nighthawks’ 25-yard line, forcing a fumble that was recovered by classmate Evan Prestera to end that drive.

Newtown had 10 sacks.

“Oh, my gosh,” Nighthawks senior James Knox said when told how many sacks he and his teammates had.

Senior Zach Loomis and Knox each had two sacks. Loomis also blocked a punt.

Senior Brandon Lombardo ran eight times for 66 yards and two touchdowns for Newtown and completed 11-of-16 passes for 100 yards.

Junior Jack Street threw a 38-yard touchdown to classmate Luke Hannon and Miles Ricks (11 yards) and Connor Breslin (3 yards) both ran for touchdowns.

Davidson became the fourth quarterback NFA had used this season. He completed 10-of-15 passes for 101 yards. Junior Xavier Fonvil added four catches for 42 yards and senior Nolan Molkenthin had four catches for 36 yards.

“It’s not the outcome we wanted, but I’m just so proud of those guys,” Wildcats head coach Jason Bakoulis said. “They came every single week and gave everything they had.”

Desilus was sacked three times in the first half and was knocked out of the game early in the second quarter. His status was unknown, but he walked off the sidelines on crutches at halftime.

Austin Richards started the season at QB for NFA but suffered a season-ending injury in a Week 3 loss at Shelton (41-20). Second-stringer Jakob Hosko was knocked out for the season in the fifth game of the season, a 27-13 loss at West Haven.

Newtown scored in seven plays on its first drive. Lombardo scampering for a 29-yard touchdown to give his team a 7-0 lead with six minutes, 45 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Nighthawks opened the second quarter with a fourth-and-2 from the NFA 14. Miles Ricks ran left and down his team’s sidelines for a touchdown to increase Newtown’s lead to 14-0.

Mulligan sacked Desilus for a 4-yard loss on third down to force the Wildcats to go three-and-out again. It was the third time Desilus was sacked and he didn’t return.

Davidson fumbled the ball at the NFA 30 and was recovered by the Knox with 1:21 left in the first half.

Prestera ran for a 4-yard gain on fourth-and-1 at the Wildcats’ 21. Lombardo ran for a 17-yard touchdown two plays later as Newtown pushed its lead to 21-0 with 11 seconds left in the half.

“I’m proud of everybody on this team,” Cote said. “We lost three quarterbacks. To keep playing after going down three quarterbacks, to make the playoffs, I’m so proud of this team.”

n.griffen@theday.com

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