BRANDT – The Ansonia Tigers got off to a hot start at the beginning of each half Friday night, but penalties and miscommunication on keys downs attributed to their defeat against Bethel.
Ansonia received the opening kickoff. The Tigers marched down the field behind Max Wardrip and Jarvis Thwaits, who chunked away yardage while Aydan Sanders busted the long 26 yarder to get the team in scoring distance. From there, Wardrip pounded the ball Bethel’s 2-yard line, and Thwaits scored the touchdown, giving Ansonia the 8-0 lead after Sanders caught a two-point conversion from quarterback Matthew Shook.
“That first drive showed what we were capable of,” Ansonia head coach Eugene Hoeing said.
Bethel quickly answered with a 50-yard run by Jacob Evans on a third and 2. Ansonia over-pursued on the play, and Evans’ speed was unforgiving. After converting a two-point conversion, Bethel tied the game 8-8.
Ansonia’s second possession went nowhere. The team gained a total of 1 yard before punting. The Bethel Bees took the opportunity to piece together a six-play, 65-yard drive that ended on a 20-yard touchdown run by the shifty wide out Noah Burrowes. Bethel elected to kick the point-after and took the 15-8 lead.
At 2:38 in the first, Ansonia again went three and out with a punt while Bethel, again, answered with a solid touchdown drive that went into the second quarter.
Down 22-8, Sanders took the kickoff 60 yards to the Bethel 38, but the Tigers were stopped on fourth and 2, in part due to a questionable spot by the official.
From there, Bethel scored on a touchdown pass to Ian Anderson and went into halftime with a 29-8 lead.
After the half, Ansonia came out motivated. After the Tigers failed to recover an onside kick, they stopped Bethel on downs, took control with their offense and crafted a 12-play, 52-yard drive that ended in a Shook touchdown. The Tigers were losing 29-14 but still had plenty fight left in them, so it would seem.
“When we came out in the third quarter, that, again, showed what we were capable of,” Coach Hoeing said.
On the next drive, the Bees relied heavily on the speed of Burrowes, who moved them down the field for a total of 45 of their 75 yards on the drive, capping it off with a touchdown.
Ansonia responded with a long drive that started at its own 30. On a crucial fourth and goal the ball was fumbled, recovered by Anderson and ran back for a 95-yard touchdown, which buried Ansonia 42-14.
“There were two other times we drove deep into their territory but got turned away. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. When our offense clicks, we can move the ball,” Coach Hoeing said. “When we find ways to defeat ourselves, then we don’t move the ball as well.”
The game ended with a 49-14 Bethel Bees victory, but the Ansonia coaching staff and players knew they had stopped themselves from scoring more often than Bethel.
Coach Hoeing had nothing but praise for his opponents in defeat.
“I have to congratulate Bethel,” he said. “They run their offense very well. Their quarterback is a heck of an option quarterback. They just executed well, and that gave us problems. The adjustment as halftime seemed to help, but with the quarterback they have, along with their running backs, that’s a tough offense to defend.”
Ansonia fell to 2-7 overall and 2-5 in the Cross County Conference with the loss. The Tigers will conclude their season on Friday when they play host to undefeated Covington.