The game was a little too close for Newtown High coach Steve George’s liking, so much so that he wondered if a pregame pep talk had given the Nighthawks the wrong idea.
“I thought they misinterpreted me,” George said. “I wanted to give (the fans) something to cheer about. But I would have liked it to be a blowout. Unfortunately, they had something else in mind. They wanted to keep it close and give them something to cheer about until the end.”
Bethel had much to do with that, forcing a pair of late, clutch fumbles: one halting a Nighthawks drive on the Bethel 1-yard line; the other on a first-down run inside the Bethel 12 that would have essentially sealed the victory with under four minutes to play. In the end, the Nighthawks — wearing the colors of Sandy Hook Elementary School — held on for an emotional 22-14 victory.
Nighthawks senior two-way lineman Dom Scarangella spoke after the game about the night’s atmosphere, the crowd joining the Nighthawks in donning Sandy Hook green-and-white. He also wondered if resulting jitters might have stunted the Newtown offense, which eventually accounted for all 22 of its points in the first half.
“It was just kind of overwhelming,” Scarangella said. “I’ve never seen so many people at a game. We played for them tonight. It was good to distract them from everything that happened.
“We’ve got to work on it. We kind of feel out (the other team) early on, and it’s something we’ve got to work on in practice, getting up on them early.”
Scarangella conceded that Bethel, a team still searching for its first win, caught the Nighthawks (2-0) by surprise. Led by senior quarterback Joey Piatnik (two rushing touchdowns Friday) and a bruising defense, the Wildcats served up quite a scare for the reigning SWC champs.