BRISTOL - On the seventh play from scrimmage, Austyn Howe fell to the ground and watched a pass from Nick Pestrichello get tipped up in the air and land right in his arms for a 35-yard gain.
Almost three quarters later, Cameron Baker fell to the ground at nearly the same spot as Howe did and watched a tipped Bryce Curtin pass land right to him for an interception.
It was that kind of night for the Newington football team where everything seemed to go right and the exact opposite for Bristol Eastern.
“We also have to go out and make them happened,” Indians head coach Jason Pace said. “When that ball’s up in the air and we’re not attacking it aggressively, [those plays are] not going to happen… There may be some luck involved, but at the same time, our guys are hungry and want to go out and make plays.”
Newington certainly made plenty of plays Friday night in its 42-7 win in Bristol following an impressive upset over Windsor in the season opener.
Nick Pestrichello threw for three scores, John Amaning ran for 123 yards, including a 76-yard touchdown, and the Indian’s defense forced two turnovers, tallied three sacks and held the Lancers to 169 yards of total offense.
By halftime, Newington (2-0) held a 35-7 lead and scored on five of its first six possessions.
Shakir Smith’s 4-yard touchdown run capped off 13-play, 65-yard drive by the Indians to start the game. Pestrichello then connected with Gunnar Johnson on a 41-yard pass down the sideline, while Amaning’s 76-yard dash with 1:56 left in the first quarter brought the score to 21-0.
Pestrichello threw two more touchdowns on each of Newington’s next two possessions to Keenan Esau - the first a 1-play, 8-second, 32-yarder with the second coming on a 5-yard slant rout - to put the Indians up 35-0 midway through the second.
Pestrichello finished the night 15-for-17 for 224 yards with six different receivers catching at least one pass. Johnson led Newington with five catches for 101 yards, while Esau complied 53 yards on four catches.
More impressively, four of the team’s seven scoring drives lasted five plays or less.
“We’re trying to create some difficulties for defenses to matchup up against us because you can’t say, ‘hey we’re going to take away this player or that player,’” Pace said. “We have so many different assets, especially on the offensive side, that we’re trying to utilize all of them.”
For Bristol Eastern (0-2), the loss now extends its losing streak to 17 games dating back to 2017.
And there are plenty of tough opponents on the schedule remaining. Pomperaug, the team’s Football Alliance matchup, is next week, with games against Wethersfield, Maloney, Platt and the ever-important matchup against Bristol Central looming.
“It’s a big thing for us to try to stick together and work together and eliminate those mental mistakes,” Lancers head coach Anthony Julius said. “Our kids know they haven’t played their best football yet. Newington is a good football team, no doubt about that. They definitely earned it tonight for sure, but I don’t think we gave our best effort for four quarters.”
As Bristol Eastern’s defense struggled to contain Newington, its own offense couldn’t get much going either, especially over the first 24 minutes of play.
After fumbling on their first possession of the game, the Lancers punted their next four drives before Curtin scored the team’s only touchdown on a 9-yard run with 27 seconds left in the first half.
Curtin, who was under duress for a majority of the night, particularly from Indians defensive end Mike Maslauskas who finished with two sacks, completed 7 of his 18 passes for 68 yards. Five of those throws went to Treyvon Daniel, who finished with 52 yards receiving.
Bristol Eastern was better in the second half, coming away with 98 of its offensive yards, while giving up just one touchdown to the Indians, a 1-yard run Jordan Alexander with 10:33 remaining in the fourth quarter, which set the running clock into motion. But the team struggled to play from behind from the start.
“It was nice to come out of the locker room [after halftime] and have a little bit of fight,” Julius said. “You credit the kids for not giving up and giving the effort and trying. But after the game we talked about not hurting ourselves and being able to execute. We had a lot of mental errors tonight.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
NEWINGTON 42, BRISTOL EASTERN 7
At Bristol Eastern
Newington (2-0) 21 14 0 7 — 42
Bristol Eastern (0-2) 0 7 0 0 — 7
N—Shakir Smith 4 run (AJ Ferreira kick), 8:21
N—Gunnar Johnson 41 pass from Nick Pestrichello (Ferreira kick), 4:24
N—John Amaning 76 run (Ferreira kick), 1:35
N—Keenan Esau 38 pass from Pestrichello (Ferreira kick), 11:39
N—Esau 5 pass from Pestrichello (Ferreira kick), 7:53
BE—Bryce Curtin 9 run (Jack Bachand kick), 0:27
N—Jordan Alexander 1 run (Ferreira kick), 10:33
Rushing—Newington: John Amaning 11-123-TD, Shakir Smith 4-13-TD, Nick Pestrichello 4-6, Jordan Alexander 2-1-TD. Bristol Eastern: Dylan Garcia 13-50, Alex Marshall 14-48, Bryce Curtin 9-11-TD, Treyvon Daniel 2-(-2), Jameson West 1-(-6).
Passing—Newington: Pestrichello 15-17-224-3TD. Bristol Eastern: Curtin 7-18-86-INT.
Receiving—Newington: Gunnar Johnson5-101-TD, Keenan Esau 4-53-2-TD, Austyn Howe 1-35, Amaning 2-23, Luca Briganti 1-12, Alexander 2-0. Bristol Eastern: Daniel 5-32, Garcia 1-17, Jake Dauphinee 1-(-1).