Middletown North falls just short in loss to Nottingham

Middletown North falls just short in loss to Nottingham

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Middletown North falls just short in loss to Nottingham

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HAMILTON

Middletown North showed that its football program is headed in the right direction on Saturday afternoon against Nottingham.

Behind a valiant effort from freshman quarterback Donald Glenn, the No. 7 seed Lions put a scare into the second-seeded Northstars before falling just short in the final minutes, 35-33, on the road in the NJSIAA Central Group IV playoffs.

Glenn kept Middletown North within striking distance all game and finished 18-for-31 with 225 yards and four touchdowns, but fourth-quarter miscues and interceptions doomed the Lions in the end.

Early in the fourth quarter, Nottingham quarterback Stephen Adams stunned Middletown North when he converted a fourth-and-goal from the Lions 18-yard line by hitting a leaping Tevin Williams in the end zone to extend the Northstars lead to 35-27.

The Lions responded two plays later, though, when Glenn eluded a rusher and hit junior Troy Thompson for a 45-yard touchdown.

“Some of the things Glenn was able to do and the composure he showed out there as a 14-year old was pretty impressive,” Middletown North head coach Steve Bush said.

The Lions appeared to convert the game-tying 2-point conversion, but it was called back on an illegal formation penalty. After a delay of game penalty, Glenn’s attempt at the 2-point conversion attempt from the 12-yard line was broken up by the Northstars defense, and the Lions trailed 35-33.

Later in the fourth quarter, Glenn twice had a chance to lead the Lions to go-ahead drives, but both times he was picked off by Nottingham’s senior defensive back Williams, the final one to end the game.

On the first play of the game, Nottingham’s Rutgers-bound senior Saquaan Hampton got the Northstars off to a quick lead by returning the opening kickoff 85 yards to the end zone. The Lions responded right back. Sophomore Chad Freshnock punched in a 4-yard touchdown and senior Jake Betkowski hauled in a 12-yard touchdown from Glenn to put the Lions up 14-7 before the end of the quarter.

In the second quarter, Nottingham rattled off three straight touchdowns and appeared to be pulling away, but again Middletown North showed resilience. With 41 seconds left before halftime, Glenn led the Lions on a 5-play, 61-yard drive. He connected with junior Troy Thompson on a 10-yard slant in the end zone.

On the opening drive of the second half, Glenn led an 11-play, 59-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown to Betkowski, but the Lions missed what would have been the game-tying extra point.

Freshnock ran for 33 yards on six carries in the first quarter but left the game with a shoulder injury and did not return.

“Freshnock is a good player and he went down,” Bush said. “Betkowski, (Felix) Santana and Dan Napolitano did a nice job filling in. We had some guys playing out of their spots.”

Betkowski finished with a game-high 54 rushing yards on six carries and had 59 receiving yards on seven catches. Thompson finished with a game-high 109 receiving yards on five catches, including two touchdowns.

Senior linebacker Anthony Fabiano had three sacks for the Lions.

“We made some mistakes that didn’t help, missing some extra points,” Bush said. “But the kids played so hard to get there. You can’t take that away.”

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