Norwich Free Academy (Conn.) desperately needed a win over a surging New London team in one of the nation’s oldest Thanksgiving Day rivalry games to qualify for the state’s Class LL playoffs. On Thursday, the Wildcats got exactly what they needed.
NFA used a late third quarter touchdown on a 95-yard touchdown return and added six more points on a touchdown scramble by Wildcats quarterback Shea McManaway to provide enough buffer for the Wildcats’ stingy defense to hold on for a 13-0 victory and a spot in the state playoffs. As reported by the New London Day, NFA’s win improved the Wildcats’ record to 8-2 and locked up the likely fifth spot in the impending playoffs.
The loss won’t end New London’s season — the Whalers are locked in as the third seed in the Class L playoffs already — but the loss is a bitter pill to take for a team which entered undefeated in search of avenging a similar loss in 2015. Making the loss tougher to take was the Whalers’ setbacks deep in NFA territory throughout the first half: New London pushed inside the 1o-yard-line three times in the first half, and the red zone four times, but came away with zero points.
Now it’s up to New London to bounce back and push forward in the playoffs, while NFA will hope to build off its momentum with another deep drive into the postseason.