A Suffering Town Celebrates a Victory

Newtown High School wins state football title 7 years to the day after Sandy Hook killings
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2019 9:12 AM CST
Newtown Posts Victory on Painful Anniversary
Newtown's Ben Pinto (42) reacts after the Newtown Nighthawks beat the Darien Blue Wave with a walk-off touchdown in the Class LL state football championship Saturday. Pinto's brother, Jack, was among the first graders killed seven years ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School.   (Kassi Jackson/Hartford Courant via AP)

On the final play of the game—after a rainy day of vigils and mourning, with flags at half-staff—Riley Ward caught a 36-yard pass from Jack Street. The touchdown gave the Newtown Nighthawks the Connecticut Class LL high school championship on Saturday, the seventh anniversary of the day a gunman killed 20 first graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Ward kept right on running after he scored until he'd joined teammates, coaches, and fans in celebration, the Hartford Courant reports. "I love this town," Ward said. "I love everybody."

Some of the Newtown High School players attended Sandy Hook, and Ben Pinto, a linebacker, lost his brother, Jack, in the massacre. Players, cheerleaders, and fans—including supporters of Darien, the other high school—had something green on to honor the victims. The 13-7 victory brought the Nighthawks a 13-0 season record and their first state title since 1992, per CNN. "The whole town showed out on this special night," one player said. "We knew we had to bring it home for our town." (Read more Sandy Hook Elementary School stories.)

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