NEWINGTON - Before Friday afternoonâ€™s game against winless RHAM, Newington said it was determined to show more focus and better efficiency on the offensive end.
Throughout the first half of a the 42-7 win against the overmatched Sachems, the Indians did just that.
Newington opened the contest with a methodical touchdown drive just over three minutes long. After reaching the red zone, a pinpoint pass from quarterback Nick Pestrichello to Jordan Alexander was caught at the 2-yard line, and John Amaning ran the ball in from the 1 two plays later.
The Indians then showed their big-play ability on their next drive. Alexander got open along the right sideline, caught a bullet from the well-protected Pestrichello and took the pass to the house, outrunning the defenders for a 66-yard score and giving NHS a 14-0 lead with 3:42 remaining in the first quarter.
Newington went on to make many big plays on both ends of the field, including multiple defensive touchdowns.
The offensive performance for the Indians (3-1) was a far cry from last weekâ€™s loss to Amity, in which they earned just a field goal.
â€śLast week, I think the issue was less our energy and more just execution. Today, we did execute. We came out with the mindset that every time we touched the ball, we would do this, and on defense we be prepared to make plays,â€ť head coach Jason Pace said.
Pestrichello played well throughout the night and Amaning ran for three scores, including a 23-yarder. The defense constantly pressured the Sachems all night, leading to multiple sacks, a fumble recovery by Amaning and two interception returns by Keenan Esau for TDs.
Esau made a spectacular play on the opening play of the second. He plucked a pass by Devon Brysegal out of the air and outraced Sachem players for a 65-yard touchdown, putting NHS up 21-0.
The Indians bounced back quickly from a missed field goal. After a poor drive by RHAM ended in a vicious sack by Zach Demarco, they began at the Sachemsâ€™ 30-yard line.
Amaning immediately sprang to action. The junior scored in just two plays, powering through the defense for eight yards and then maneuvering through multiple defenders to give NHS a 28-0 lead with 7:02 remaining in the half.
The Indiansâ€™ final offensive touchdown was set up by Amaning and quick passes. Pestrichello found multiple receivers for big chunks of yardage, including Gunnar Johnson, Alexander and Shakir Smith, while Amaning continued to overpower defenders, finally bulling his way in from 11 yards out with 2:27 remaining.
â€śWe were able to balance the pass and the run and use all the assets of our receivers, Amaning had a good game and made strong decisions, and the offensive line played as a unit,â€ť Pace said.
The offense slowed down its pace and was not able to mount a long drive before removing the starters after the third.
Newington still scored one more time however, on Esauâ€™s second interception that opened the third. The senior easily intercepted a misread pass by Brysegal and was out in front of everyone on the 25-yard touchdown.
â€śMy teammates played great coverage over the top on the interceptions, especially the second one. On that, I was able to drop underneath to get the pick, and they did a great of blocking on the first one, too. When the guys make good plays, I am able to capitalize off it,â€ť Esau said. â€śEverybody on defense was flying around making plays and executing today.â€ť
In addition to the sacks and forced turnovers, the Indiansâ€™ defenders constantly caused losses and bottled up RHAM running back Ronald Frey, who could not break off any long carries.
Brysegal was under pressure and had many passes batted down, with a few near interceptions. The Sachems were unable to convert on multiple fourth-down attempts, and only reached the red zone once until their touchdown drive in the waning minutes.
â€śWe knew that the defense was going to try and be aggressive and create situations where we can cause takeaways and big plays, and Keenan did that tonight,â€ť Pace said.
RHAM scored its first touchdown of the season on a 14-yard catch by Dylan Swanson with just over a minute remaining.
Newington will look to keep on rolling against Platt next Friday. Pace discussed what NHS must do to sustain its momentum from the win.
â€śPlatt is a tough opponent and weâ€™ve lost to them twice in a row, so weâ€™re going to make sure weâ€™re tough, focused and come out with that same intensity,â€ť he said.