Fermi drops Senior Night game versus E.O. Smith

By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Enfield - posted Thu., Nov. 8, 2012
Junior Andrew Wilcox throws a pass during Fermi's Senior Night game versus E.O. Smith on Nov. 2. Photos by Colin Rajala.
Junior Andrew Wilcox throws a pass during Fermi's Senior Night game versus E.O. Smith on Nov. 2. Photos by Colin Rajala.

The Enrico Fermi High School football team (0-8) was looking to end its 20-game losing streak with a win in the final home game of the season versus the E.O. Smith Panthers (3-5). Despite its second-highest point total of the season, Fermi lost the Senior Night match-up 40-26, giving up too many big plays to an explosive E.O. Smith team. With the loss, the Falcons remained in last place in the Central Connecticut Conference Division II East, while the Panthers are in a three-way tie for third place.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day, but when it was completed it was an empire, and that is what we are looking to do,” said Fermi head coach Joseph Tata, Jr. “This team is young and inexperienced; they are learning how to win. I have confidence in this team; I’m not going to abandon them.”

Three minutes into the game, E.O. Smith drove the field and made a long run to the end zone when Fermi forced a fumble where a Panther player recovered the ball in the end zone for the early 7-0 lead. Fermi tied the game up early in the second quarter when Frank Kusta came across the middle for a catch and run touchdown from Andrew Wilcox. The Panthers would answer, eating away at the clock with a long drive and capping it off with a quarterback sneak for a 13-7 lead. After blocking a Fermi punt and gaining possession, the Panthers extended their lead to 20-7 with less than two minutes left in the half on a touchdown run by Nick Kyparidis.

Fermi began another drive to close the Panther lead to one possession before the half, but E.O. Smith extended its lead to 27-13 with 50 seconds left in the half on an interception returned for a touchdown. After a strong kick return from Bailey Raymond gave Fermi good field position, the Falcons offense started to click, throwing for four first downs. The drive ended when Wilcox threw a fade to the back corner of the end zone and Bailey Raymond soared above the Panther defensive back, coming down with the ball inbounds to cut the lead to 27-13. With five seconds left on the clock, the Falcons special teams gave up a kick return for a touchdown and went into the half down 33-13.

“You cannot give up the big play and expect to win,” Tata said. “If you take away their big plays, the fumble recovery in the end zone, the pick six, and the kick return for a touchdown, then you have a tie game at the half. Those scores really kill any momentum you build.”

The game turned into a defensive battle in the second half with Fermi preventing the big play and stopping E.O. Smith from extending its lead, while E.O. Smith would not allow the Falcons to gain any momentum. In the fourth quarter, the Fermi offense began to click, moving the ball quickly and efficiently. With under four minutes left in the game, Wilcox threw his third touchdown pass of the game to Kusta to cut the Panther lead to 13, at 33-20. Once again E.O. Smith would respond and scored 20 seconds later on a 59-yard run by Kodey Duplissie for the 40-20 lead. Fermi’s last drive of the game resulted in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Wilcox to Raymond.

Wilcox completed 12 of 30 passes for 208 yards and four touchdowns. Raymond and Kusta scored two touchdowns a piece, gaining 86 and 92 yards, respectively. Devaughn Gordon carried the ball 12 times for 119 yards.

The Falcons close out their season Nov 16. with a road match-up versus Bloomfield.

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