Northeast Bulls come together after suffering a loss to the Hartford Rebels on August 7
The Hartford Rebels defeated the Northeast Bulls 24-0 on August 7 at Glastonbury High School, handing the Bulls their first home loss of the season.
Harford remained undefeated (7-0) with the win, maintaining their lead atop the East Division inside the East Coast Football League’s New England Conference.
“When it’s a big game, we focus on keeping our emotions in check,” said Hartford head coach Benny Fulse, “Our coaching staff is great, we tell our players to play like professionals and conduct ourselves as professional. If everyone does their job, the other team is not going to beat us. Each week we play to finish 1-0.”
The game featured the top two teams in the division.
The Bulls, who play all their home games at GHS, were riding a four-game winning streak. They had won all three home games entering the contest.
“We lost the battle before we took the field. We’ve got to stick together all four quarters,” Northeast head coach Les Maldonado said following the team’s first home loss, “I felt like we didn’t handle adversity.”
Hartford capitalized on the game’s opening possession, marching 59 yards in 10 plays. Quarterback Rayshawn Phillips, a 2016 graduate of Bloomfield High School, connected with Laheim Walcott on a seven-yard scoring strike to give the Rebels a lead they would not relinquish.
Northeast was without the services of starting quarterback David Donahue (illness) and had trouble moving the ball the entire game. Backup quarterback Dimitri Lucy had little time to operate as Hartford massive defensive line was consistently in the backfield.
“We had a lot of missing pieces, guys on our offensive line, our quarterback, some guys on defense, but it’s next man up. Everyone has to get ready like they’re the #1 guy,” added Maldonado, “Football is an emotional sport, it’s how we’ll react that will matter.”
Hartford extended the lead to 16-0 in the second quarter when running back Justin McCray plunged in from a yard out and then converted the ensuing two-point conversion on the ground.
The Bulls threatened to score in the second quarter after Isaiah Bryant intercepted Phillips and returned it to the Hartford 33-yard line.
Two plays later, Hartford returned the favor when Alejandra Bonilla intercepted Lucy inside the red zone to thwart the scoring opportunity.
Hartford added the final nail early in the fourth quarter when Taji Poole took a delayed handoff and knifed through the heart of the Bulls defense for the game’s final score.
The draw play worked all night for the Rebels, who came in with a potent passing attack but used the ground game to drain the clock in the second half.
“Each week we game plan for who we are playing. The teams in the league haven’t seen our full game plan on offense or defense. If I’m able to beat you with six or seven plays, I’ll do that. I try not to show my whole hand that way I’ve got something in the bag for later. A lot of people think we can’t run because we’re a pass-happy team, so they sit on the pass,” said Fulse, “They were more concerned about our passing game. We noticed the linebackers were dropping, so we ran right up the middle where those linebackers were leaving. The were only playing with two linebackers, so we knew if they were dropping, we’ve got you five to four.”
The loss dropped the Bulls to 4-3.
“Personally, I think we were confident, we just didn’t execute. We know how winning feels, but we also know how losing feels and we can’t forget about that,” said Maldonado.
Maldonado gave an impassioned speech to his team following the loss, saying, “Win or lose, it’s doesn’t change what we’re trying to do. It takes everybody. I’ll go down with the ship with you. Losing only builds character.”
This past Saturday, the Bulls fell to 4-4 following a 30-22 loss to the Green Valley Blackhawks at Old Killingly High School.
The same day, the Rebels suffered their fist loss to the hands of the Rhode Island Ravens (20-13) at Annie Fisher Magnet School in Hartford.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin