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Nov. 11: Centaurs fall to NFA in final home game of the season

The Woodstock Academy football team hung with Norwich Free Academy in the first half but couldn’t get much of anything going in the second.

As a result, the Wildcats picked up their third win in a row with a 26-7 victory over the Centaurs on Veterans Appreciation Day at the Bentley Athletic Complex.

Woodstock Academy (3-6, 0-4 Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I) put together a really nice first drive in the game.

After forcing the Wildcats to punt on their first possession, the Centaurs took over the ball on their own 32.

They held on to it for the next 8 minutes, 20 seconds, going 16 plays down to the NFA 17-yard line.

The only problem with the drive was that Woodstock Academy didn’t put any points on the board, turning it over on downs at the Wildcats’ 19.

NFA (3-6, 1-3) responded with an eight-play drive that resulted in seven points.

Quarterback Gage Hinckley spotted receiver Wyatt Woodcock who had got past the defense and lofted the ball to him for a 29-yard score.

Hinckley was “Mr. Everything” for the Wildcats as he completed 15 of his 18 passes for 170 yards and also rushed for 64 yards in nine carries. He is also the team’s kick returner, punter and a key defensive player at linebacker.

“He’s a good player, A big, strong player and was a problem on both side of the ball,” said Woodstock Academy coach Sean Saucier.

The Centaurs came back to tie following one of the few Hinckley mistakes, an overthrown pass that ended up in the arms of linebacker Kyle Grist at the Centaurs 44-yard line.

Woodstock Academy quarterback Teddy Richardson used both his legs and arm and got a little help from NFA to guide the Centaurs down the field.

Richardson hit Lucas Theriaque (4 catches, 74 yards) with an 18-yard pass and added 10 of his 51 yards in 13 carries on the day in the drive.

On fourth-and-14 from the NFA 24, the Centaurs finally caught a break.

A Richardson pass to Theriaque was broken up but a flag flew and the pass interference call gave Woodstock Academy a first and goal at the NFA 9.

After a sack backed them up four yards, Richardson ran for three and Gabe Luperon-Flecha added to give the Centaurs a fourth-and-goal at the three. Instead of the field goal, the Centaurs opted to go for it and Richardson (15-for-28 passing, 137 yards) flipped it over the top of the defense to tight end Aiden Brailsford for the only touchdown of the day for Woodstock Academy with 1:50 left in the half.

That turned out to be too much time to leave NFA.

Conor Gaughan dominated a series that would give the Wildcats the lead at the half.

The senior rushed for 16 yards to the NFA 41. Two plays later, Hinckley found him for a 27-yard pass to the Woodstock Academy 31.

Grist almost had his second interception of the day on an errant pass by Hinckley but the senior quarterback didn’t make the mistake a second time, passing to Gaughan for the score with 46 seconds left in the half to give the Wildcats the 14-7 lead.

The second half was largely dominated by NFA as the Centaurs could only muster 12 yards on their first possession, lost eight on their second and only had 22 in their third.

“I just think we have to figure out how to come out after halftime,” Saucier said. “It happened against New London, too. We get the ball, which is supposed to be an advantage, and we’re going backwards. You can’t start the second half like that and that is what we have to look at.”

Magnus King scored on a 1-yard run on NFA’s first possession of the half and Hinckley added an insurance score from 2 yards out with 2:35 to play.

The Centaurs finish off the season on the road next week with their annual Thanksgiving Day game at Killingly at 10:30 a.m.