NEW BRITAIN - It was a game the New Britain football team needed to win. There were no ifs, ands or buts about it.
With the season unraveling as of late after two consecutive losses, including a 42-20 defeat against Southington in a game they had every chance of winning last week, the Hurricanes came into Friday’s game against Glastonbury with a heightened sense of urgency. It was either win out or face another non-winning season.
It was just a matter of would the “good” New Britain team be making an appearance or would the “bad” one be showing up instead? The team has had a habit of alternating between the two, much to the frustration of the coaching staff and players. In the end, the Hurricanes got a little of both.
New Britain certainly did not make it easy, holding as much as a 25-point lead at one point before ultimately coming out with a 39-29 win. Then again, that hasn’t exactly been the Hurricanes’ style this season.
There were still the missed assignments and plenty of penalties that has plagued the team throughout the year, especially in their four losses, to counter some of the team’s big plays. But it was a step in the right direction. It had been almost a month since New Britain (3-4) was able to put up a W on the schedule.
“Any win feels great, but after the loss against Southington, to beat Glastonbury feels really good,” offensive and defensive lineman Jacob Clark said. “We’re just gonna build from this win and see what we can do against East Hartford next week.”
What helped the most was the Hurricanes’ ability to take advantage of their opportunities they failed to capitalize on just a week ago.
For the second game in a row, New Britain’s defense intercepted three passes, two of which were returned for touchdowns by Shawn Robinson, and came away with four sacks and 11 tackles for loss. The offense, meanwhile, established a rhythm early with its running game and utilized its passing attack to gain big chucks of yards.
Robinson, Muhammed Codjoe and Kaiyon Gunn all averaged more than 5.3 yards per carry and all three scored a touchdown. Robinson once again led the way with 13 carries for 109 yards, including a 62-yarder for a score on the Hurricanes’ first possession of the second half.
Quarterback Jahfari Newman was efficient, completing just 8 of his 16 passes for 160, but six of those completions went for 15 yards or more, four of which went 20 yards or more, including two to Jayshawn Alexandre at the end of the first half that allowed the team to kick a 28-yard field goal.
“Honestly we have to come out with the same energy from the first quarter all the way to the fourth,” Robinson said. “I’m not gonna lie to you, we were fired up one half and the other half not. Making a play for your team changes the whole culture of the sideline. This [is] our home [field]. We need to be respected at home, so we came out and made plays.”
But there were still plenty of plays left on the field, particularly in the fourth quarter when the Tomahawks (3-4) began to engineer a comeback.
After Robinson returned his second interception for a touchdown to make the score 39-14, Glastonbury responded with an 8-play, 59-yard drive as Drew Daniels tossed a 23-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Molinari. Another successful onside kick against New Britain gave the Tomahawks the ball back, which they used to cut the deficit to 39-29 after a 19-yard run from Julice Sams.
Glastonbury had a chance to make it closer after forcing a Robinson fumble on its 25-yard line before two sacks by the Hurricanes’ defense quashed the possibility of the Tomahawks completing the comeback.
Still, New Britain was outscored 15-0 in the fourth quarter and gave up five plays of 12 yards or more.
“We’ve gotta learn how to finish [games],” Hurricanes head coach Tebucky Jones said. “You’ve gotta get that down and that’s the second week in a row we gave up an onside kick. I’m getting sick of that. I think at the end, we got a little complacent. You’ve got to keep that will and that drive and it can’t be three quarters, it’s got to be four. We just have to continue to build on that.”
New Britain will certainly get the chance to prove that starting with a road trip out to East Hartford next Friday night against a Hornets team (6-1) fresh off of an upset over No. 2 Southington before closing out the season at Enfield (1-6) and against Berlin (7-0). The Hurricanes see all three as winnable games.
“The only reason I can say we lose is our attitude,” Robinson said. “We come out strong, punch them in the mouth, punch them in the mouth again and then we let up, we press the brake button. We have a great team and hopefully we end the season on a positive note.”
It will just be a matter of which New Britain team decides to show up.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or email@example.com
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach