Matt Daniels had a fourth quarter for the ages as Glastonbury football defeated Newington 28-20 last Friday night at Alumni Field in Newington. Over the final 12 minutes, Daniels ran for 162 yards and two touchdowns, and also hauled in a clutch reception, as the Guardians erased a fourth deficit to earn their first victory of the season and hand the Nor’easters their first loss.
“You always want your big time players to make big time plays in big time games, and that’s what he did,” head coach Eric Hennessy said of Daniel’s fourth quarter heroics.
It was a game of contrasting styles as Glastonbury used a physical ground game to counter Newington’s aerial attack that came in averaging nearly 48 points per game.
The Guardians were able to control the tempo and the ball, totaling 331 rushing yards and holding Newington to a measly two yards on the ground.
“We knew we’d have our run game today,” said Daniels, “We ran a lot of outside zone, that was their weakness on the edge, and we hit that and it work.”
Starting running back Jack Petrone was a breast, carrying the ball 35 times for 161 yards, providing the thunder to Daniels’ lightning.
“Newington is a pretty amazing team offensively and they’re fast, so we don’t match up well with their speed but we understood that we could matchup with their size and we felt we could wear them out a little bit. That was our goal,” added Hennessy, who previously coach at Newington from 2013-2016, “We wanted to line up and pound it on them, and when we got the opportunities to throw the ball we did. We wanted to mange the clock and be the more physical team.”
Petrone ran for two touchdowns in the first half but big plays from Newington gave the home team a 20-14 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Down six and facing a 3rd & 6 from their own 18 yard line, quarterback Drew Curto rolled out and connected with Daniels for a 29-yard hookup down the left sideline. Two plays later, Daniels broke several arm tackles before breaking free for a 41-yard score.
Daniels gave credit to his fellow captain for paving the path, “My boy Jack Hennessy was pulling around the end, so I grabbed on to his back and he led the way,”
After the Guardians forced a turnover on downs in the red zone, Daniels ripped off his second touchdown, weaving his way downfield for an 89-yard touchdown with under a minute to play in regulation.
“We made good blocks on the edge and the corner missed a tackle and I just used my speed to score the touchdown,” added Daniels, “We’ve been underestimated all year and this was coach Hennessy’s old school, so we were all very confident and we wanted to win for him.”
The Guardians defense sealed the deal in the closing seconds on the game. After Newington drove into the red zone, a sack by senior Patrick Serksnas pushed them back to the 25-yard line before the team forced three straight incompletions.
The win came at the right time as the Guardians (1-4) go into their bye week with momentum.
“In each of the four games before we weren’t able to make that play. We had opportunities, but we weren’t able to capitalize on it,” added Hennessy, “Today we capitalized when we needed to and that was difference. It’s nice going into the bye week with a win and it’s nice beating one of the better teams in the state and making a statement.”
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin