Green Wave washes over Panthers


The Pomperaug Panthers took on the New Milford Green Wave Thursday night with high hopes for a victory. However, it was not to be. The Panthers fell 46-2 in New Milford, dropping their record to 2-2 on the season. New Milford came into the game with a 0-3 record but was a much better team than their record indicated. While Coach James Reed was disappointed in the game’s turnout, he stayed positive, saying, “All we can do is move on. Hopefully, we learn from this.”

On the game’s opening drive, the Panthers’ defense stuffed the New Milford run attack, forcing a three-and-out drive. The Panthers took over on their first drive, moving the ball well with a first-down run by running back Mike Curcio. As the team moved close to midfield using their ground game effectively, the night looked promising for Pomperaug. Things turned in an instant when quarterback Wade Prajer was stripped of the football on a run, and the Green Wave recovered the ball at the bottom of the pile.

The Panthers’ defense would bend a little farther on the Green Wave’s next drive. The defense regrouped and forced a New Milford punt from around midfield. It was downed at the Panthers’ 20-yard line. That bad field position is where the trouble began for Pomperaug.

Prajer and the Panthers again pushed the ball up field. They were nearing midfield before the Green Wave was able to force the first Pomperaug punt of the night. On the ensuing punt, the snap traveled over the leaping punter, Kevin Nadler. By the time Nadler had recovered the ball and tried to boot it, the Green Wave was all over him, blocking the punt and recovering it in the end zone for the game’s first score. The defense would block the Green Wave extra point try, keeping it at 6-0 New Milford. “We really struggled on special teams” Coach Reed said after the game.

The Panthers weren’t fazed for the time being, as the offense came out again and started to move the ball down the field. A first-down run from senior running back Mike Foschi and a quick 9-yard pass to wide receiver Jimmy Christiano set up a third down and short. Prajer converted it for a first down on a quarterback keeper, bringing the offense once again near midfield. The drive, however, took a turn for the worse when a 10-yard holding penalty backed up the Panthers. They could not recover and would be forced to punt again.

Coach Reed’s defense had been great all half, and defensive end Troy Sullivan recorded a key sack on the New Milford quarterback, forcing another punt from the Wave. The Panthers’ defense took their one blemish of the first half on the next Green Wave possession. New Milford began to air it out long in the second quarter. The Green Wave saw quick success by throwing the ball deep down the sideline into tight windows. Three quick passing strikes, and New Milford had opened up their lead to 12-0 on the Panthers with 5 minutes to go in the half.

Reed was very happy with his defense despite the lopsided final score. “We only gave up 14 points on defense,” he said. That defense was key in helping keep Pomperaug in the game just before the half. New Milford was attempting to punch in another score before the break. A mix of passes and even a Statue of Liberty trick running play by the Wave had them moving the ball again. However, Christiano came up with a timely sack for Pomperaug, slowing the Green Wave and not allowing another score before the half.

The second half began with the Panthers failing to pick up a first down. Coach Reed sent the special teams unit onto the field once again. Just as they did in the first half, the suffocating special teams unit of New Milford blocked a punt, and just as in the first half, it was returned for a Green Wave touchdown. New Milford had now opened their lead to 18-0.

The game really began to slip away from the Panthers in the third quarter, as the Wave went on to post 20 third-quarter points. There were positives for Prajer, who had his best passing drive of the game in the third quarter. Prajer hooked up with wide receiver Nadler on consecutive 20-yard completions and then found Christiano again for another 15 yards. The Panthers, however, couldn’t turn it into a score versus the hard-hitting New Milford defense. The score after three quarters was 32-0 New Milford.

The fourth quarter brought more bad news for Pomperaug when Prajer was forced to leave the game with a banged-up right ankle. Sophomore Joseph LaCava replaced him.

The Green Wave tacked on another 14 points in the fourth quarter, giving them 46 on the evening. Still, some positives showed for the Panthers. Their defense came up with a safety in the New Milford end zone that gave the team 2 points, their only score for the evening. And Foschi broke a huge 50-plus yard run near the end of the game.

Next up for the Panthers is a home match-up with Stratford Friday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. It looks to be another tough match-up since Stratford has won its last two games, including a 44-29 win over New Milford last week.


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