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Nighthawk Football Team's Defense Stymies Barlow In 17-7 Win



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Nighthawk Football Team’s Defense Stymies Barlow In 17-7 Win

By Andy Hutchison

Newtown High School’s football team overcame a 7-3 halftime deficit and lackluster first half offensive performance for a 17-7 win over Joel Barlow High School at Blue & Gold Stadium on Friday night.

A spirited defensive effort and some execution with the ball in the second half pushed the Nighthawks to 2-0 this season. Their South-West Conference rival Falcons fell to 1-1.

It was a turnover- and penalty-filled contest with both teams struggling to get on track offensively from the start. Down 7-0, Newtown finally got on the scoreboard when senior Rory Noonan booted a 27-yard field goal just 2:19 before halftime. The kick was set up by senior Kyle O’Connor’s 17-yard run.

The Nighthawks’ offense, behind strong blocking, was sharp on its go-ahead third quarter scoring drive. Newtown senior quarterback John Fracker completed a 10-yard screen pass to Noonan, a 22-yard screen pass to senior Nick Tarrantino and a 15-yard pass to O’Connor. Barlow’s defense tried to clamp down and nearly held the Nighthawks, but on third down and 13 at the Falcon 24 Fracker found junior Ryan Korth in the end zone for Newtown’s first lead. Korth made amends for a dropped pass earlier in the game and Noonan’s extra point made it 10-7 with 9:07 remaining in the third.

In the fourth quarter Newtown’s slim lead remained in jeopardy until Fracker made his way through the Barlow defense and extended the ball to the goal line as he was being tackled. Fracker had just enough reach in him to break the plane of the end zone with just 1:41 showing on the scoreboard clock.

Junior Colby Summerlin sealed the win with a sliding interception near midfield with just 45.8 seconds left in the game.

Earlier in the fourth, with Barlow threatening to reclaim the lead, Noonan came up with a timely interception just outside of Newtown’s end zone. The pickoff was set up by senior defensive tackle Connor McNamara’s pressure on Barlow quarterback Tyler Colby.

“The whole game it was bend — don’t break,” said McNamara who, for the second week in a row, made the opposing quarterback rush pass attempts. McNamara and fellow seniors Tory Deakin and Brian Kuruc, along junior Matt Datin — among others — played well on the defensive side of the ball throughout the game.

“Every time we had to, we stepped up,” McNamara said.

The Hawks will try to make it three wins in a row to begin the season when they head on the road for the first time. Newtown visits Immaculate High in Danbury at 1 pm on Saturday, October 3.

“Next week we have to come out tight on offense,” said Deakin, acknowledging that he dropped a pass and pointing out that the receivers need to do a better job of holding onto the ball to make Fracker’s job easier and allow the offense to be more productive.

Newtown has held its first two opponents to a combined 13 points. NHS defeated Bunnell 27-6 in the season-opening game.

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