NEW BRITAIN - The New Britain football team had seen it play out so many times in the past - play well one week and get the win, only to fail to follow it up the next and leave with the loss.
It was not different Friday against No. 18 South Windsor, where so many things that could have gone right instead went wrong for the Hurricanes.
Seven days after coming away with a 24-point win over Manchester, the Hurricanes fell flat in a 34-21 loss.
“To be honest, at the end of the day, they wanted it more,” New Britain corner and receiver Jayshawn Alexandre said. “They fought harder and outplayed us.”
If New Britain learned anything from Friday night, it was just how much work, especially on the defensive side, still has to be done. In all three games this season, the Hurricanes have given up at least 30 points, their only win coming last week because the offense was able to score 62.
Against the Bobcats, New Britain head coach Tebucky Jones knew what plays were coming and so did his players. But the coach could only watch from the sidelines as South Windsor ran left, right, middle - it didn’t matter - and piled up the yards on the ground. Out of South Windsor’s 417 yards of total offense, 369 were rushing. Of the Bobcats’ five touchdowns, four - three in the second half - came via the ground game.
And after the game became final and New Britain huddled just outside the left end zone, Jones let his team know.
“I’m frustrated, because if we practice something, just do something the way you’re told to do it,” Jones said. “Don’t go into the game and do your own thing.
“This is probably the most penalties [South Windsor] had in the game. Last two weeks they had one. I told [our players], they’re going to run the ball and control the clock and that’s what they did. We practice these things all week and it’s not turning over into the game.”
Julian Ibes proved to be the most trouble for the Hurricanes. The Bobcats tailback ran 26 times for 210 yards and two scores. His teammates, Julian Tomburro and Ronnie Pinkard, rushed for 96 and 63 yards, respectively, adding a touchdown apiece as well.
New Britain was able to get plenty of penetration in the opposing backfield - it finished with three sacks - but either over pursued or bounced off the rusher. To make things worse, South Windsor utilized the same three or four plays throughout the night regardless of down or distance.
“We were too late to identify the play,” Alexandre said. “When you’re too late to identify the play and by that time, they’re already four, five yards down the field. Those are plays we can’t be letting up. As a defense, we missed too many tackles. Tackling was key, we missed too many and that’s something we’re going to have to work on in practice.”
But as Jones pointed out, the practices are not translating into games and with a number of quality opponents left, the Hurricanes will have to curtail the big plays they’ve allowd so far to keep the pressure off the offense, which struggled itself.
While the Bobcats racked up the yardage, New Britain managed just 42 rushing yards themselves - down from its Week 1 total of 258 and 312 yards in Week 2. On third downs, the Hurricanes failed to covert on all six of their opportunities.
On all three of New Britain’s touchdowns, the drives lasted five plays or less. There were chances for more points, but quarterback Jahfari Newman and his receivers couldn’t connect. On one drive, it led to an interception.
“I told [our players] it took [South Windsor] six to eight minutes to score. We scored in four seconds,” said Jones, referring to touchdowns in both the first and fourth quarters.
Now the question becomes, how does this season’s team prevent the slide that the others over the past two years became known for? This group had high hopes before the season began and still wants a shot at the playoffs.
“We just have to believe in ourselves,” Alexandre said. “If this team has the confidence that we are the best team in the conference, I promise you there’s no telling what this team can do. ... We just have to do a better job of knowing that we can be that good and our mindset has to be better.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter: @DavidGlovach