By MICHAEL LETENDRE
NEWINGTON – The Bristol Eastern football team allowed Newington 25 points over the first 21 minutes of its interdivisional game on Friday, Oct. 12.
However, the Indians did not score again that night as Eastern’s defense picked it up to not allow any additional offense.
But it was more than enough to topple the Lancers by a 25-7 from Alumni Field in Newington.
“Our kids, they really stepped up there in the second half,” said Eastern coach Anthony Julius. “They held them at bay and unfortunately, we didn’t have a lot of good field position tonight. That kind of made us play a little more behind the chains than we wanted to. We would go forwards, than we’d go backwards. We go forwards, go backwards. And offensively, it’s tough to get into a rhythm when you’re doing that to yourself.”
And turnovers, interceptions and fumble takeaways slowed down the Eastern offense and when those gaffes and miscues came, it allowed excellent red zone chances for Newington to tally insurance scores.
“We had some crucial turnovers tonight,” said Julius. “We gave them the ball, I think, inside the 15 yard-line twice. Realistically, minus the short field positioning on those two possessions where we actually forced them to fourth down both times when they scored, [it’s] a 14-7 game.”
“That’s the way we’re going to try to look at it with our kids.”
Bryce Curtin started for the second time in a row at quarterback as he made 13 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown.
He made seven connects with Elijah Gagliardo (75 yards) included a 14 yard touchdown strike while Daniel Treyvon had a career day with four catches for 42 yards.
Curtin also made two connections with Gavin Jarvis for 40 yards.
“Bryce did some things well,” said Julius of Curtin. “We, as a team, as an offense, we broke down in protection a few times. We didn’t catch the football a couple times. We didn’t connect on some passes we might have wanted to but, again, it’s not one guy. It’s a team as far as the offense goes. When we’re kind of firing on all cylinders, we’re pretty special.”
“We did see some good things offensively tonight.”
Newington’s Dylan Ness-Fair made 32 carries for 157 big yards, pushing his squad up and down the field while QB Nick Pestrichello made 14 receptions for 122 yards.
To open the game, Newington’s Izayah Ciarcia took in a three yard touchdown pass from Nick Pestrichello to make it 6-0 with 9:47 to play in the first period.
Eastern was forced to punt in its opening drive and when the Indians got the ball back, Pestrichello found Gunner Johnson alone in the back of the end zone for an eight yard TD strike and with 2:59 to go in the first, it was a 13-0 game.
In the second period, Justin Marshall – still fighting the injury bug – came down with an interception of Pestrichello before Newington’s Zachary DeMarco made one of his own as a tipped pass to Gagliardo was nabbed by Newington and the home team was looking to score again.
This time, Ciarcia caught an eight yard pass from Pestrichello and with 10:32 left before the half, it was a 19-0 contest. There was an exchange of punts before Eastern got the ball back and put together its only scoring drive of the evening. It took nine plays and 64 yards but when Curtin found Gagliardo for a 14 yard TD reception, the deficit was reduced to 19-7 with 3:34 to play in the second period. And then Eastern’s defense made a huge stop, forcing the Indians punt and with the possibility of scoring and getting the ball back to start the third period, the Lancers were setting themselves up quite nicely. But the punt was fumbled and when Newington recovered the ball, the squad was now in the red zone – at the Eastern 15 yard line. Five plays later, Pestrichello pound a falling Ciarcia for a big three yard conversion and with that final touchdown, Eastern trailed 25-7 with 18.9 left in the first half. Over the second half, big tackles for losses were made by Trinidad Gonzalez and Matt D’Amato as the home team failed to score. And Eastern’s offense gave it a whirl but turnovers and interceptions foiled any chance to get on the scoreboard as Newington came away a 25-7 winner. “We made two mistakes, that’s football and it happens,” said Julius. “The kids fought, they played hard. We could have laid down in the second half and got blown out and we didn’t. They’re still fighting and they’re trying and as a staff we’re proud of that.”