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    Saturday, December 03, 2022

    Fitch runs past NFA 44-32 in ECC Division I football opener

    Fitch defenders Kevin Saintvil-Ravix (14) and Pedro Torres (57) drag down Norwich Free Academy quarterback Gage Hinkley In ECC Div. I football action Friday, September 30, 2022 at Dorr Field in Groton. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Fitch running back Melakai Maddox (20) lunges for extra yardage against Norwich Free Academy In ECC Div. I football action Friday, September 30, 2022 at Dorr Field in Groton. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Norwich Free Academy’s David Smith (10) intercepts a pass intended for Fitch’s Melakai Maddox (20) In ECC Div. I football action Friday, September 30, 2022 at Dorr Field in Groton. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Norwich Free Academy defender Gage Hinkley (6) sacks Fitch quarterback Ben Perry (8) In ECC Div. I football action Friday, September 30, 2022 at Dorr Field in Groton. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Groton — Fitch needed to absorb a few blows from Norwich Free Academy on Friday night to get things going.

    Once the Falcons settled in, they literally started running away from the Wildcats.

    Melakai Maddox ran 21 times for 257 yards and a touchdown and Ben Perry ran for three more as Fitch rallied to beat NFA, 44-32, in the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I opener for both teams.

    The Falcons (3-1, 1-0) ran 58 times for 522 yards and seven touchdowns.

    “I think we just needed a wake-up call to be honest,” Maddox said. “Going into this game we we’re taking them lightly like thinking that they’re going to be an easy team and as you can see, they scored on twice (early).”

    NFA took a 12-0 lead with 11 minutes, 55 seconds left in the first half.

    The Falcons then took off.

    “We didn’t let that faze us at all,” Maddox said. “We knew how to respond. We knew what we had to do. … take care of business.”

    Perry ran 10 times for 86 yards and three scores for Fitch while Kevin Saintvil-Ravix added eight carries for 97 yards and two scores and also had an interception.

    Adonis Fine ran six times for 50 yards and a touchdown and had two interceptions for the Falcons. Timothy Miller added another interception.

    Gage Hinkley ran 14 times for 147 yards and four touchdowns for NFA (0-4, 0-1). Jonathan Mercado added 17 carries for 79 yards and David Smith scored on an interception return.

    Fitch trailed 18-12 to start the second half and started it hot as Saintvil-Ravix ran for a 53-yard touchdown on the third play of the quarter. The run failed so the teams were tied at 18.

    NFA proceeded to score in three plays with Hinckley running for a 31-yard touchdown as the Wildcats went ahead, 25-18, with 9:59 left in the third.

    The Falcons then scored in three plays again. Maddox had a 50-yard run on the second play down to the Wildcats’ 11. Fine ran for a touchdown on the next play and Charles Cabusao’s extra point tied the game at 25 with 9:05 remaining in the third.

    Fitch finally went ahead on a 26-yard run by Perry. Cabusao’s extra point gave the Falcons a 32-25 edge with 2:34 left in the quarter.

    In the first half, Fitch had a first-and-10 at its 47-yard line on its first possession when Perry’s pass was batted in the air at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by Smith at the NFA 49. He returned it to give the Wildcats a 6-0 lead with 7:49 left in the first quarter. A pass attempt on the conversion failed.

    The second quarter went berserk as both teams scored twice in a span of 5:50.

    Hinkley ran up the middle for a 13-yard touchdown to give NFA a 12-0 lead with 11:55 remaining in the first half. The conversion run failed.

    The Falcons finally struck back on their next drive as they went 76 yards in six plays. Saintvil-Ravix had runs of 13 and 11 yards on that drive while Fine had a 20-yard run to the Wildcats’ 30.

    Perry threw a 15-yard pass to Cabusao on the next play. Perry followed with a 15-yard touchdown run to cut NFA’s lead to 12-6 with 9:46 left in the half. The conversion pass failed.

    The Wildcats did the Falcons on better by scoring in five plays. Jeremiah Paul took a short pass from Hinkley on third-and-8, juked two defenders and went 15 yards down to the Fitch 48.

    Hinkley followed with a 3 yard run on NFA’s fourth play and followed with a 45-yard touchdown run to put his team ahead 18-6 with 8:05 left in the half. The conversion pass failed.

    Maddox ran 50 yards down to the Wildcats’ 15 on the first play of Fitch’s next drive. Perry finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run but the kick was blocked as NFA’s lead was cut to 18-12 with 6:05 remaining in the half.

    n.griffen@theday.com

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