BRISTOL - The Newington football team missed an opportunity Thursday night.
For the Indians, their 2-1 start and matchup against a Bristol Eastern team that was on a 17-game winless streak gave the program a chance to get off to its best start since 2008 under first-year head coach Jason Pace.
However, it wasn’t their night as they struggled mightily on offense, especially in the second half passing the ball. And in the end fell 9-7.
“I thought in the second half our defense played well unfortunately we couldn’t convert on offense and keep drives going to finish,” Pace said. “We’ll fix it going forward,”
On offense, the run game was strong behind 59 rushing yards for Aveontae Frazier.
In the final possession of the first quarter, the Indians went on a 92-yard drive down the field and capped it off with a 34-yard passing touchdown from Robert Sanchez to Frazier.
At that point, the offense was in rhythm and it seemed as if Newington was going to control the game against a team that had only managed scored a combined 14 points coming into the game.
That wasn’t the case though as the Indians struggled to find any offense outside of that drive.
In two of its long drives, Newington converted on fourth down. The first was the touchdown pass to Frazier was on a 4th and 8 in the second possession of the game. The other was on the next possession on offense as Sanchez ran for a first down on a 4th and 1. The Bristol Eastern defense didn’t give up though as it stuffed Frazier on the same drive which was a momentum changer that saw the Lancers gain momentum kicking a field goal on their next drive before the half.
Newington didn’t have much to work off of on film as the Lancers changed their rushing attack with Ariza Kolloverja leading the ground game after not being involved during the first three games.
Although, Bristol Eastern had tried to discover a running game in those games but failed to do so before facing the Indians.
“We knew that their attack would probably be to attack our run defense and get the running game going and they did that,” Pace said.
In the second half, a different Newington team came out of the locker room, one that seemed to lack interest in the game as the start to the second half was just as depleting as the end to the first.
The Lancers came out of the locker room and put a touchdown up on the Indians to take the lead 9-7.
On the ensuing possession, Sanchez threw an interception to Kolloverja and the downfall of Newington was underway.
The Indians couldn’t discover a passing attack in the second half, needing a score and each drive started on the Indians side of the field.
Sanchez was just 3-for-12 passing after halftime for 25 yards and an interception.
As an offense, Newington punted the ball three times in the second half, threw an interception and on the final drive failed to convert on a long 4th and 14.
The Indians still have plenty to play for going forward but the loss to the Lancers highlighted some weaknesses that the coaching staff must address in order for success to resurface.
“We knew going in they weren’t a bad football team and that it’d be a war,” Pace said. “With that game I take complete blame, it’s on me. We weren’t prepared for success and we want to make sure we fix what we have to and prepare this team for success going forward.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @OrencoleDan