Newington trailed Maloney 14-0 in the second quarter at NHS.
That’s when junior quarterback Nick Pestrichello stepped into a phone booth before putting on a performance that the Man of Steel would be envious of.
Pestrichello accounted for six touchdowns, four on the ground and a pair through the air, and 377 total yards as the Indians rallied to defeat the previously unbeaten Spartans 42-35 last Friday.
“His mentality is better. After playing as a sophomore last year and now going up in that level it has advanced his game and advanced his head,” senior middle linebacker Julian Mulero said of Pestrichello’s development, “He comes out here and competes.”
After throwing an early inception, Newington’s second-year signal caller was nearly flawless the rest of the night.
The dual-threat quarterback tied things up in the second quarter with back-to-back touchdown runs, the first from eight yards away and the second on a 1-yard QB sneak, and then threw his first touchdown on the opening drive of the second half when he connected with Gunnar Johnson from 11 yards out, which culminated an 11-play drive to open the third quarter.
The game’s turning point came with 10:43 to play in regulation when Mulero and his defensive mates made a red zone stand.
Maloney moved the ball inside the ten-yard line, threatening to widen a 28-21 lead, but the Indians defense stiffed and forced a turnover on downs.
“We knew we could hang with these dudes,” said Mulero, who was extra motivated by a loss two weeks ago to Platt prior to the team’s bye week, “Against Platt we didn’t execute, we didn’t do what we had to do. We came out here and did our job. We knew we could play with anybody, we just had to do our jobs and execute.”
On the play following the defensive stand, Pestrichello showcased his pro-style arm by lofting a high-arching bomb down the left sidelines which Austyn Howe caught in stride and sprinted the rest of the way for a 92-yard game-tying touchdown.
Maloney mishandled the ensuing kickoff, which was recovered by Javier Polanco, and Newington took their first lead five plays later when Pestrichello scored his fifth touchdown.
He put the finishing touches on the win with a 72-yard house call, upping the lead to 42-28 with 2:50 to play, and then ripped off a long run to cement the victory after Maloney had narrowed the margin to seven.
Pestrichello’s heroics overshadowed a terrific game from his quarterbacking counterpart Angel Arce, who threw for four touchdowns in the loss, which dropped Maloney to 5-1.
Newington got production from all three phases. Running back John Amaning Jr. topped the century mark in yards on the ground, including several tough runs which set up scoring opportunities, and kicker AJ Ferreira was a perfect seven-for-seven on extra point attempts, including one from long distance following a penalty.
Lineman Tym Sullivan came up with a clutch recovery of an onside kick late in regulation, allowing Newington to run out the remaining time on the clock.
The win improved the Indians to 4-2, erasing the memory of the narrow (35-33) loss to Platt, and was a little extra special for Mulero and the senior teammates, who had lost to Maloney in each of the previous three seasons.
“We put pictures in our lockers of the articles of our losses and that just served as motivation,” said Mulero, who leads the team in tackles this season, “This gives us confidence. This was a good team and knowing that we could beat them like this, we know we can hang with anybody.”
Up next is a road bout on the turf at E.O. Smith (1-5) this Friday, Nov 1, at 6:00 pm. The Indians close the regular season with a road game against Bristol Central, a home finale vs Enfield, and their annual Thanksgiving-eve battle at Wethersfield.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin