Even some early success couldn’t conceal that the New Britain High football team was getting blown off the line of scrimmage.
A stirring interception and return by Daequone Clark and some penalties prevented Glastonbury from exploiting its edge in the trenches right away, but the second half left no doubt which way the verdict would go.
Quarterback Ben Berey and fleet halfback Charles Wooding exploded for long touchdown runs in the third quarter as the Tomahawks pulled away from the Hurricanes, 31-6, in the season opener Friday night in Glastonbury.
“They executed better, 20 times better,” New Britain coach Tebucky Jones said. “They’re always big. They dominated [the line of scrimmage] from the beginning.”
The rushing stats tell the tale.
Glastonbury averaged nearly 10 yards a carry, piling up 316 yards while holding New Britain to 109 yards on 24 tries.
The ’Canes held their own in the first half despite being unable to sustain a drive.
Glastonbury, on the strength of a 53-yard run by Wooding, was threatening to push in the season’s first touchdown when Cameron Lytton pounced on a fumble in the end zone. A bad snap in shotgun formation blew up the Tomahawks’ next possession.
New Britain strung together two first downs – one on a run by quarterback Malique Jones out of punt formation – but were forced to give up the ball on the final play of the first quarter.
With Glastonbury on the move again, two penalties created a third-and-18. Berey tried to go long, but Clark leaped high for the interception near midfield and returned it to the Tomahawks’ 11. Clark also made an acrobatic pick in the third quarter to squelch a Glastonbury threat.
“He’s a playmaker,” Tebucky said. “We’ve got to get him out there more on offense.”
On second down, Malique Jones rifled a pass to Juan Usuga’s back shoulder just inside the pylon for a picturesque touchdown. The conversion kick went wide and New Britain led, 6-0, 6:20 before halftime.
The Tomahawks went right to work, pounding their way 60 yards down the field in nine plays. Tyler Janssen blew in virtually untouched from the 3 and Zach Malsky added the point that gave the Tomahawks a 7-6 edge.
When New Britain went three and out, Glastonbury brought on alternate quarterback Jalen Ollie, son of new UConn basketball coach Kevin Ollie. Jalen connected on three of his five passes to get the Tomahawks within Malsky’s range. The 26-yard field goal produced a 10-6 halftime advantage that was more modest than it could have been.
“We dominated the line of scrimmage and we had positive yardage. Our defense held but we gave them opportunities,” Glastonbury coach Scott Daniels said. “We turn the ball over in the end zone on the first drive then we have a pick. We have 30 yards of penalties. We gave up a big return. We really were beating ourselves.
“I told the guys, ‘Let’s clean up our game,’ and we did that in the second half.”
Glastonbury scored on its first two possessions of the third quarter to put the game out of reach. Wooding bolted to a 37-yard score and when the ’Canes failed to move the ball for a second time in the quarter, Berey stuck the ball in Janssen’s gut, pulled it out when he read the defense and streamed 67 yards to make it 24-6.
Clark’s second pick gave New Britain the ball at its own 6. Two runs by Jones and one by Lamar Bowsky brought the ball over the midfield stripe. A 17-yard strike from Malique to senior transfer Brian Gray gave the ’Canes a first down at the Glastonbury 35, but the drive stalled.
Berey’s interception halted New Britain’s next possession. The ’Canes were rolling goalward during the waning moments of the game but the drive fell just short of cutting the final deficit.
Aside from Clark, New Britain received solid defensive performances from sophomores Marcus Torres and Alex Swaby. Senior linebacker Rikki Soumpholphakdy also ran hard to the ball.
“We call him 14,” said Tebucky, who knows most of the kids through nicknames. “He’s got 14 letters in his last name.”
New Britain next hosts Southington Friday night at 7 p.m.
Glastonbury 31, New Britain 6
New Britain (0-1) 0 6 0 0 – 6
Glastonbury (1-0) 0 10 14 7 – 31
NB – Juan Usuga 11 pass from Malique Jones (kick failed), 6:20
G – Tyler Janssen 3 run (Zach Malsky kick), 1:39
G – Malsky 26 FG, :01.8
G – Charles Wooding 37 run (Malsky kick), 9:20
G – Ben Berey 67 run (Malsky kick), 5:53
G – Berey 1 run (Malsky kick), 6:24
RUSHING – NB: Jones 9-62, Lamar Bowsky 13-45, Dylan Krivickas 1-2, Brian Gray 2-(-2); Glastonbury: Wooding 9-130, Berey 9-104, Janssen 14-93, Austin Smith 1-1.
PASSING – NB: Jones 13-34-1, 121 yds.; Glastonbury: Jalen Ollie 5-9-1, 91 yds.; Berey 1-3-1, 3 yds.
RECEIVING – NB: Gray 5-49, Fitz Ingram 3-38, Usuga 2-20, Cam Lytton 2-2, Marc Colon 1-12. Glastonbury: Joshua Hill 2-38, Grant Lewis 2-39, Nick Karp 1-14, Janssen 1-3.