EAST HARTFORD - New Britain head football coach Tebucky Jones made it clear what his team had to do to be successful to come out with a win against No. 15 East Hartford Friday night - execute the game plan.
And afterwards, Jones made it clear what had cost the Hurricanes after their 28-7 loss.
“[East Hartford’s] touchdowns were big plays,” the head coach said. “You can’t allow big plays.”
And so, the inconsistent season New Britain has been on continues, which now finds itself in need of wins in its final two weeks to avoid a losing season and finish with its third consecutive 5-5 record.
It was a night the Hurricanes (3-5) found themselves competitive once again, but just like in their previous four losses, lacked the discipline to stop the Hornets (7-1), who scored the final 21 points of the night, when they needed to.
New Britain limited East Hartford to 256 yards of total offense, but gave up 11 plays of 10 yards or more, which included three of the Hornets’ four touchdowns. Even with East Hartford out penalizing the Hurricanes 10-6, it was New Britain’s lack of attention to detail that hurt it the most, be it blown coverage or missed assignments.
Hornets quarterback Raquan Tompkins eluded a Hurricanes defender to run 32 yards for his team’s second touchdown of the game. He would later connect with UConn commit Kevon Jones for a 27-yard touchdown pass at the end of the third quarter, while Quinton Haughton capped off East Hartford’s night with an 18-yard run to bring the score to the final 28-7 in the fourth.
And though Tompkins was able to plenty of plays that hurt New Britain’s defense, completing 6 of his 11 passes for 105 yards while rushing for another 60, it was Jones who proved to be the difference maker. The senior compiled 117 yards of total offense and two touchdowns. He was also responsible for seven of the Hornets’ 10 first downs.
“Overall, the defense played pretty well,” Jones said. “The thing that hurt us were the big plays, there’s nothing else. Both teams had penalties, but you have to stop the big play.”
But the Hurricanes’ offense did not help matter much either.
For the third time this season, New Britain was held to under 21 points - all three have been losses. In their three wins, the Hurricanes are averaging 48 points per game, in their four losses, 15.4.
As much as the big plays hurt New Britain on defense, it also played a factor on the offensive side of the ball. While East Hartford compiled those 11 plays of 10 yards or more, New Britain finished with just six.
It didn’t help either the Hurricanes were 2-for-9 on third-down situations and 0-for-3 on fourth. Dropped passes, missed blocks from the offensive line and missed throws highlighted many of the struggles the unit had against the Hornets’ defense that ended drives prematurely.
Out of New Britain’s 10 possessions, it only saw the red zone one, which results in the team’s only touchdown, a 9-yard run from Kaiyon Gunn. The other nine were split between four punts, three turnovers on downs and two that capped off both halves.
The Hurricanes’ leading rusher, Shawn Robinson, gained just 43 yards on 13 carries. Tahje Yopp led New Britain with 56 yards on four carries, but 35 of those came on a rush that helped set up Gunn’s score. Quarterback Jahfari Newman, meanwhile, completed 8 of his 17 passes for 89 yards with five of his incompletions coming on third downs.
“There were certain situations where we had good field position, good downs with the marker and I have to make a couple more plays and get the ball to people I need to get it to on those big downs,” Newman said. “The offense played good, just a couple of missed throws by me.”
Now, the Hurricanes must once again regroup and refocus for their final two games of the season - at 1-7 Enfield and against 8-0 Berlin - for that chance at avoiding a losing season. There certainly won't be a lot of wiggle room.
“We gotta keep the same mindset of ‘when your number’s called, you gotta make plays,’” Newman said. “When your number’s called, that’s on you. A lot of times when we make big plays we win big games. So that’s what we gotta do.”
But in order to do so, they will have to leave the mistakes and miscues behind. The question will be if they can or not.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach