Pomperaug fails to repeat dramatic win


Just one week removed from their dramatic come-from-behind win over Holy Cross, Pomperaug took to the field Friday night in Bethel with high hopes and expectations. They had posted a season-high 29 points against Holy Cross and hoped to keep their offensive momentum going as they faced the Bethel Bobcats. It was not to be. The struggles the Panthers faced during their earlier three-game losing streak came back to haunt them. The Bobcats thoroughly dominated Pomperaug, winning the game 48-6 on their home field.

The Pomperaug defense came up with an impressive first stint to begin the football game. They forced the Bobcats to punt the ball after just three plays on their opening drive. Bethel’s defense also started the game strong, forcing Pomperaug into a punting situation after just three offensive plays. Special teams’ play put the Panthers behind the eight ball three weeks ago in New Milford; it did so again in Bethel. The ensuing punt was blocked by the Bobcats. After a mad scramble for the loose ball, Bethel fell on top of it for a quick touchdown.

The Panthers again found themselves playing from behind on the scoreboard. Panthers quarterback Joseph Lacava and his offense responded with a solid drive. Mike Foschi began to pick up where he left off last week, pounding the ball forward with some hard-fought runs. Lacava connected with his favorite wide receiver target, Jimmy Christiano, for a 17-yard gain, moving the ball to the Bethel 28-yard line. The Bobcat defense answered the challenge, something they continued to do all night. Pomperaug was unable to move the ball any farther and turned the ball over to the Bobcats on downs.

With the opening quarter winding down, Bethel marched the ball down field inside the Pomperaug 20-yard line. The Panthers’ defense forced a third down, but took a crucial (questionable) penalty call for pass interference. With the ball inside the 10-yard line, the Bobcats ran a quarterback pitch to the running back, and he scampered untouched into the end zone with 40 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Panthers’ fortune didn’t change in the second quarter. To begin the quarter, Coach James Reed replaced Lacava at quarterback with senior Wade Prajer. Prajer began the season as the team’s number one quarterback, but had been sidelined with an injury. Prajer successfully completed his first pass in almost a month. On the next play, he kept the ball for a quarterback run but was stripped of the ball by the Bethel defense. The Bobcats recovered the football and a few plays later were in the end zone to up their lead to 21-0.

The Panthers’ lack of focus became evident on the next play. The Bobcats kicked off to Pomperaug, and a fumble was recovered by Bethel just 10 yards from the end zone. One 9-yard run later and it was 28-0 Bethel. Coach Reed said it was as if his team “never even got off the bus tonight.”

When the Panther offense came back onto the field, Lacava was back in at quarterback. He completed a pass to Christiano, but his next pass was intercepted by Bethel. The Bobcats took the opportunity to convert the turnover into more points, upping their lead to 34-0.

On the following kickoff, Jake Hardwell sparked the Panthers by receiving the kickoff and following his blockers 80 yards for a touchdown. The Panthers, now on the board, trimmed the lead to 28 points. Their momentum was short lived. The Bobcats fired right back with a quick touchdown before halftime, taking a commanding 48-6 lead into the break.

The Bobcats held a 42-point lead, and neither team scored in the second half. The teams played out a defensive battle, but the game ended with the scoreboard flashing the same as it did at halftime, 48-6 for the Bethel Bobcats.

When asked if Lacava had taken over the starting quarterback position Reed insisted he had not. He did say, “I’m very impressed with the way Joe had stepped in while Wade was hurt.” Reed said he believed he has an outstanding player in Wade Prajer, but likes what he has seen in Lacava, his future full-time starting quarterback.

The loss to Bethel drops the Panthers’ record to 3-4 on the season while Bethel improves to 5-2. The Panthers next host Brookfield Friday, Oct. 31, at 7 p.m. Brookfield will not present an easy task for the Panthers either. Their record stands at 6-1 after their loss to powerhouse Newtown 21-14 Friday night.


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