NEWINGTON - It was the tale of two halves for the Newington football team against No. 14 East Hartford Friday night.
And while their losing streak is now up to seven after a 27-7 loss, the Indians showed some progress, holding off the Hornets for the half of the game.
Coming into the matchup, Newington’s game plan was simple - keep East Hartford’s offense off the field. And it worked, for the first half.
Quarterback Robert Sanchez scored the Indians’ lone touchdown just two minutes into the first quarter as he ran 61 yards untouched into the end zone.
“We came out in a different formation, one no one has seen,” Newington head coach Jason Pace said. “We haven’t shown it all year and we were able to have a big run.”
But that was as much as the Indians would get as the game shifted into the Hornets’ favor behind Kevon Jones.
The UConn commit was responsible for two of East Hartford’s four touchdowns Friday evening. While he was held on check on the ground, rushing for 19 yards and one touchdown on six carries, Jones proved to be even more dangerous as a receiving threat, catching four of Raquan Tompkins’ passes for 80 yards, with another touchdown.
Tompkins, meanwhile, completed 8 of his 13 passes for 93 yards and touchdowns. He also carried the ball nine times in 140 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown.
But it wasn’t until the third quarter when East Hartford began to pull away in the game thanks to some carless mistakes that helped the Indians. The Hornets accounted for eight of the nine penalties, losing a total of 75 yards.
Was it the cold? Or was it something else? Either way, it wasn’t the normal East Hartford team on display Friday night.
“I think [the cold] impacts both teams,” Pace said. “That’s why we really tried to establish the run game early on, it’s a little harder to throw the ball when it’s cold. But, it does impact both teams.”
The Indians were able to take advantage of that for most of the first half before Tompkins connected with Israel Colon a 5-yard pass with just .05 seconds left in the second quarter to make the score 13-7.
East Hartford’s offense continued to propel through the second half, Jones rushed a 1-yard touchdown and capped off the drive by scoring the two-point conversion. And with the Hornets ahead, 21-7 the Indians were struggling to find momentum - something they have been struggling with all year.
When Newington struggled to run the football, it tried to throw the ball, but was unsuccessful in that endeavor as well. Sanchez completed just 2 of his 10 pass attempts for 18 yards, while rushing the ball 14 times for 87 yards.
“Second half, we just didn’t really work as a team,” Indians running back Dylan Nees-fair said. “For next time we need to adjust the second half. We need to continue to work as a team the entire length of the game.”
Newington will get one final shot to do just that before its season draws to a close when it travels to Wethersfield on Nov. 22 following an off week.