MONROE — There haven’t been any defenses that have managed to stop the running game of Cooper Gold this fall. Add the Masuk Panthers, even with the assistance of Mother Nature providing difficult footing on Masuk’s natural surface during a steady light rainfall, to that list. Gold rushed for more than 250 yards — most of which came in the first half alone — and scored five touchdowns to lift the visiting Newtown High School football team to a 42-7 triumph over the Panthers on November 26.
The win capped off Newtown’s perfect season as the Hawks gear up for the state playoffs; the Hawks finished the regular campaign with an 11-0 record (12-0 overall with the South-West Conference title game win over Brookfield added to the mix), and Masuk dropped to 7-4.
This was the annual Thanksgiving Eve clash, which got pushed up a day with heavy rain and winds moving in. The Nighthawks made it an early feast of sorts, gobbling up another opponent by stuffing the ball into the end zone six times by the time the night was done.
Masuk answered an early Gold score to tie the game before Newtown’s defense went into lockdown mode. The offense put up its sixth 40-plus point performance of the season.
Gold got things started on a four-yard run to pay dirt, which was set up by Troy Frangione’s 52-yard opening kickoff return to the Masuk 38 yard line.
After the Panthers got even, Frangione returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards. A 20-yard completion from quarterback Drew Tarantino to Julian Dunn helped set the stage for Gold’s two-yard TD rush. Gold broke free on a 71-yard TD scamper to pad the lead, making it 21-7 late in the opening quarter.
A 37-yard Ethan Carpenter punt return led to Gold’s one-yard TD run for the only scoring of the second quarter. Newtown’s 6-foot, 210-pound running back mashed his way through the Panther defense and eclipsed 200 yards on the ground in the first two quarters.
Masuk received the second half’s opening kick, but fumbled the ball away and Newtown’s Jack Lago recovered to set up a three-yard Gold score, his last of the night. Nick Lotrecchiano put the gravy on this Newtown feast with a five-yard score on the ground in the fourth quarter.
Otto Kerler was successful in all of his extra point attempts. Newtown, despite the slick conditions, didn’t turn the ball over and made this win look as easy as (pumpkin) pie.
Masuk, in a nice gesture, marked the 26-yard lines each with a green 26 to honor the victims lost in last year’s massacre in Sandy Hook. Monroe welcomed Sandy Hook’s elementary students at Chalk Hill School last year, and there’s been an off-the-field bond between the neighboring towns since that time.
Newtown’s players can check the standings after the Turkey Day games are completed to find out who their first-round Class LL state playoff opponent will be. The only thing for sure is that the Hawks earned the No. 1 seed and a quarterfinal-round home game on December 3. Kickoff at Blue & Gold Stadium is scheduled for 6:30 pm. The state playoff opener will mark the first time this fall that the Class LL Hawks will face a school in their own class size since all opponents they faces were in the smaller divisions, but that may not matter. Masuk, Pomperaug of Southbury, and Stratford are all Class L schools Newtown faced, and the Hawks dominated each of those games, and their toughest tests of the season came against Class M schools Joel Barlow of Redding, Brookfield, and Bethel. Updated standings and playoff bracket details may be found at casciac.org.