NEFL Game Ten Recap NJ Spartans versus CT Bearcats
BELLEVILLE, NJ – With an undermanned team the NJ Spartans found themselves at an instant disadvantage even before losing in the final game of the NEFL season to the Connecticut Bearcats by a score of 31-0.
“We had several guys miss time, some due to injury some due to prior obligations…it was definitely a good game, I’m glad our guys fought to the end,” said Spartans Head Coach Kevin Moss.
Due to the absence of starting quarterback Rashad Hector, Eddie Feliciano was thrust into the starting role against an opportunistic Bearcat defense. Feliciano did not fare very well producing just 10 yards passing on the day along with 25 rushing yards as the Connecticut defense mauled the Spartan offense.
“It’s a new league and we’re feeling out the new teams,” said Feliciano. “These teams are really talented and we’re really talented too we just have to come together, we just need to execute,” he added.
After a few short drives stalled for both teams the Spartans were given a gift by the Bearcats. A punt, which went off of a Bearcat blocker was promptly recovered by Hassan Frazier setting the Spartans up with the ball on the Bearcat 38-yard line.
The ensuing drive would turn out to be a nightmare for New Jersey, as they would go backwards losing two yards on the next three plays setting up a 4th and 12 on the Bearcat 40. The very next play would be the game’s decisive moment as the Spartans elected to go for it.
Feliciano juggled the snap, which eventually found it’s way into a Bearcat defenders arms, who then lateraled the ball to defensive-back Court Sutherland who scampered 32 yards into the Spartan end-zone to make it 7-0 Bearcats with 4:08 remaining in the first. The touchdown deflated any offensive momentum gained by New Jersey and put them in an early hole.
“Turnovers killed us, we have momentum, we’re driving, we’ll be on a good roll then all of a sudden [mistake takes us] ten yards back, the guys lose their focus and then all of a sudden, bad snap, fumble, the other team recovers it and we lose momentum,” said Feliciano.
Connecticut continued to play strong defense eventually getting the ball back on their own 47-yard line where they would embark on a 10 play 53 yard scoring drive early in the second quarter. The Bearcats converted both a third and fourth down conversion on the drive including a 10 yard touchdown run by Akeem Wright on fourth and one with 7:02 left in the half.
New Jersey continued to make mistakes as their next drive yielded a turnover on downs on their own 45. Connecticut cashed in once again using their strong-legged kicker Andy Benzicewicz, who nailed a 29-yard field goal just before the half expired to make it 17-0.
Moss decided to shake things up in the second half as the Spartan rushing attack used a number of different ball carriers. William Woodley, Eddie Feliciano, Chris Turner and James Wright all carried the ball for the Spartans on their opening drive, which got up to midfield.
“We have a plethora of backs that once we get something going we steamroll,” said Moss.
Once again, however the turnovers would cost New Jersey as a third and one snap was botched and recovered at the Spartan 46. Connecticut scored four plays later as Akeem Wright took a carry out of the “wildcat” formation from 18 yards out to make it 24-0 Bearcats with 2:46 remaining in the third.
Connecticut would add one more touchdown after a third fourth down blunder by the Spartans set Connecticut up on the 20-yard line. Dion Moffett’s 20-yard touchdown reception was the icing on the cake for the Bearcats as he made a circus catch while carrying a defender across the plain.
Impressed by the running of his own back James Wright, or perhaps desperate for a playmaker Kevin Moss elected to put Wright in at quarterback for a couple plays to try and move the chains. Wright was moderately successful finishing the game with a team high 44 yards rushing on the night and was the biggest offensive threat the Spartans had.
“James Wright definitely did come in and provide a spark along with our running game,” said Moss.
Despite a disappointing 1-9 season in their first year in the NEFL Moss and company remain optimistic next season will show improvements as they adjust to the level of play.
“Now that we know what the competition level is like, we’ve actually showed that we can compete with all the teams,” said Moss.
“The first year in this league was a good learning experience and all, we know the teams [and] what competition we’ve got,” said Feliciano. “We know the talent we’ve got coming to us, we just have to recruit now [and] get the players so we can compete.”
#Story by Nick Teodoro,