Football Nighthawks overcome slow start
STRATFORD — Anyone who casually glances at the final score Newtown’s 49-7 win over Stratford on Friday would assume it was another typical Nighthawks victory.
Newtown coach Bob Pattison knows better.
Pattison knows when he looks at the game film he’s going to fill a legal pad of mistakes and miscues that could come back and haunt the Nighthawks somewhere down the line if things aren’t fixed.
“I’m happy with the outcome, but at times we played sloppy on drives and that hurt us in the first half,” Pattison said after his team improved to 3-0. “You’re looking at our run game and you’re seeing gains, but I’m looking and I’m seeing mistakes. That’s the type of stuff we have to clean up.”
Senior tailback Dan Mason had 23 carries for 160 yards and three touchdowns to pace Newtown’s offense.
The Nighthawk’s piled up 442 yards in the game, but only 62 of those yards came in the first quarter when Newtown let a pair of red zone opportunities slip away without points.
One started as a first-and-goal from the Stratford 10, only to wind up a fourth-and-goal from the 30-yard line.
“Penalties,” Pattison said. “Then we didn’t field a snap and next thing you know, it’s fourth-and-goal from the 30. That happened twice where we were in the red zone and didn’t score. We have to play that cleaner.”
In the second quarter, though, Newtown started rolling.
After Mason scored his second touchdown of the game, Newtown’s Joseph Paggett intercepted Stratford QB Jake Ryan on the Red Devils’ 35.
One play later, Newtown quarterback Luke Melillo found a wide open Shea Talbot for a 35-yard scoring pass and a 21-0 lead.
On Newtown’s next possession, Jared Dunn capped a 70-yard scoring drive with a 3-yard TD plunge.
“It was definitely a really slow start, not the start we wanted at all,” Mason said. “But we bounced back and established our game. We just talked on the sidelines, made some adjustments, refocused and did what we had to do.”
Melillo — after a 1-for-5 start — finished 8-for-13 for 143 yards. Jack Zingaro also recorded a pick for the Nighthawks.
Trailing 49-0 late, Stratford got on the board when Ryan hit a streaking Kaleb Lafontant for a 75-yard scoring strike with under four minutes to play.
“We need to find consistency,” Stratford coach Jack Petion said. “We need to find guys to be consistent. We need leadership and the seniors really have to step up.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Dan Mason. The 6-foot tall, 225-pounder bruise pounded away at the Stratford defense the whole game.
“Dan’s been a bell cow for us,” Pattison said. “He gets the ball 20 times a game and he’s been over 100 yards in all our games. He’s a big back, hard to take down, and always making the second and third guys make the tackle. I’m happy how he’s running and how the offensive line is playing.”
PLAY OF THE GAME
On the opening kickoff, a Stratford fumble led to Newtown’s Nick Sabillon recovering the ball on the Red Devils’ 5-yard line.
Two plays later, Mason busted in from 3-yards away to put Newtown on top by a 7-0 score less than a minute into the game.
“If it wasn’t for that score, it would have been zero-zero for quite a while,” Mason said.
“I think they kind of surprised us,” Mason said. “Maybe we took them lightly, but that isn’t smart at all. We need to come out and treat every game like it’s a championship game.”
NEWTOWN 49, STRATFORD 7
NEWTOWN 7 21 7 7—49
STRATFORD 0 0 0 7—7
N—Dan Mason 3 run (Devin O’Connell kick)
N—Mason 21 run (O’Connell kick)
N—Shea Talbot 35 pass Luke Melillo (O’Connell kick)
N—Jared Dunn 3 run (O’Connell kick)
N—Tucker Garrity 10 run (O’Connell kick)
N—Mason 1 run (O’Connell kick)
N—Miles Ricks 56 run (O’Connell kick)
S—Kaleb Lafontant 75 pass Jack Ryan (John Bike kick)