NEW BRITAIN - There would be no dramatic endings in the latest version of the New Britain-Berlin football rivalry.
The Hurricanes made sure of it.
New Britain rushed for 474 yards and seven touchdowns - three in the first half and four in the second - as the Hurricanes ran their past the Redcoats 51-6 in the Wishbone Bowl Friday night. It was New Britain (5-5)’s first win over Berlin since 2014.
Berlin (8-2), meanwhile, now heads into the postseason off back-to-back losses.
“Watching the film, we kind of knew we could get the running game going,” Hurricanes head coach Tebucky Jones said. “All year, especially in the second half of the season, I felt our line was our strongest part of the team.”
New Britain’s Muhammed Codjoe ran for a season-best 198 yards - 117 yards in the first half alone - and two touchdowns on just six carries. The senior tailback scored the game’s second touchdown on a 71-yard run down the right sideline in second quarter. He later topped himself with an 81-yard run on the second play of the second half for the other score.
Tahje Yopp added another 107 yards on the ground and a touchdown, while the team’s leading rusher, Shawn Robinson, had a modestly quiet night with 65 yards and a score. Quarterback Jahfari Newman also ran into the end zone twice.
“We just came out here, a little more emotional than we usually are and a little harder than we usually are and we finished out the game,” Codjoe said. “We usually let off the gas, but this time we didn’t let off the gas.”
But unlike the previous two meetings between the teams in which Berlin used a last-second field goal and overtime touchdown so seal wins, the Hurricanes took the suspense out of this game early. Despite a scoreless game after the first quarter, New Britain grabbed a 23-6 lead at halftime and never allowed the Redcoats to find their bearings.
Berlin’s lone touchdown came with just nine seconds left in the first half when Kevin Dunn tossed a 3-yard pass to Giancarlo Tufano.
“We didn’t play really well, obviously we were down a few key players, but we didn’t play well,” Redcoats head coach Joe Aresimowicz said. Playoffs are in a week and a half, we have to fix it. The kids are committed to fixing it and so are the coaches, we’ll get back after it.”
But for the second week in a row, Berlin helped its opponent more than itself. The Redcoats turned the ball over three times, two coming off Dunn interceptions, and muffed a kickoff in the second quarter that led to James Mazzarella being tackled in the end zone for a safety.
Dunn finished the game 9-for-14 for 96 yards, while Berlin complied just 230 total yards and made in into the red zone just once.
“The scoreboard says it all, 51-6,” New Britain offensive and defensive lineman Jacob Clark said. “The defense did its job today. Linebackers filled their gaps. D-ends, we did our jobs. That’s all I can ask for. We were able to finish. We wanted it bad and we should have done it from the first game, but hey, we made the most of it tonight. I proud of our guys for that.”
Codjoe’s first touchdown run of the night, the 71-yarder, in the second quarter officially set the tone for the rest of the night. But it was Yopp’s 45-yard run in the third that started the running clock.
The Hurricanes outscored the Redcoats 28-0 in the second half.
“I told our kids, ‘last year, we should have won,’” Jones said. “But I told the guys ‘a lot of you are never going to be playing football again, some of you are going to be able to move on elsewhere. You have you go out there and shine.’ They did a great job.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach