Big Plays Lift Nighthawk Gridders To Pull-Away Win At Barlow
REDDING — A close game midway through the second quarter changed quickly thanks to a clutch fourth down conversion and first-ever touchdown by Newtown defensive end Jamex Knox. Leading just 10-7 in the second quarter, the Nighthawks converted a fourth and long, scored one play later, then went up 23-7 on a Knox strip, fumble recovery, and return for a score — his first TD at any level — sending Newtown High's football team on its way to a 44-10 triumph over host Joel Barlow on November 15.
Newtown seized an early 7-0 lead on a Brandon Lombardo to Riley Ward 52-yard touchdown strike, and Devin O'Connell's 27-yard field goal made it 10-0 late in the opening quarter. A Barlow score pulled the hosts within three in the final minute of the opening stanza. Barlow QB Brett Hugo rushed for a touchdown.
Lombardo's quarterback platoon partner in crime, Jack Street, completed a fourth and nine pass to Jack Zingaro for an 11-yard gain to the Falcon 24. On the next play, Street connected with Zingaro for a TD, making it 17-7 with 6:06 to play before the half.
Knox got into the end zone after causing a turnover near midfield, staking the Hawks to a 23-7 lead with 3:35 to go before the half (the Hawks had a rare miss on the extra point). The Nighthawks were penalized for an excessive celebration after Knox spiked the ball, but what defensive end wouldn't celebrate a rare taste of glory.
"It was surreal. I didn't feel like I was running in for a TD when I ran it in," Knox said.
Newtown led 23-7 at halftime. Knox continued his standout performances with a fumble recovery on the second half's first play from the line of scrimmage, giving NHS possession at the Falcon 44, but the Hawks were forced to punt. Barlow inched closer on a 36-yard field goal by Michael Puglio, making the score 23-10.
It was all Nighthawks from that point on, although Barlow had Newtown on the verge of punting before the Hawks came through with another clutch play.
Backed up at their own eight yard line and facing third and long, Newtown scored when Lombardo completed a screen pass to Connor Breslin who finished the 92-yard play for a 30-10 lead with 3:07 to go in the third quarter.
A 21-yard TD pass from Street to Ward made it 37-10 with 46 seconds showing on the third quarter scoreboard clock. The touchdown was set up by Jack Mulligan's fumble recovery at the Falcon 33.
Zingaro's 32-yard interception return to paydirt, on the first play of the fourth quarter, capped the scoring. Evan Prestera's late fumble recovery helped seal it.
The Nighthawks had to overcome Barlow's tricky offense and did so with relative ease after some initial struggles.
"It's very hard to replicate their offense in practice. They run the triple option very well," Newtown Coach Bobby Pattison said.
Pattison was pleased with his team's effort. Newtown looks to finish its regular season with an unbeaten mark when the Nighthawks visit Masuk of Monroe in the annual Thanksgiving Eve clash, Wednesday, November 27, at 6 pm.
"We take it one game at a time, one week at a time," said Knox, adding that Newtown hasn't overlooked opponents on their path to what they hope will be a deep state playoff run.