The much-anticipated debut of new coach John Murphy's New Milford High School football team took a bad turn Sunday amidst a flurry of Masuk second-quarter touchdowns.

The Green Wave trailed, 14-12, at the first-quarter break in front of a crowd of perhaps 1,000 at NMHS. Hopes had been high that coach Murphy's local squad could pull an upset of the perennially strong Panthers.

However, Masuk scored six more touchdowns before the halftime intermission to take a 54-12 lead and quiet the previously enthusiastic home crowd.

By game's end, the Panthers had carved out a 71-34 victory.

Coach Murphy and his Green Wave will have the chance to bounce back Sept. 20 when they welcome Joel Barlow to town.

Murphy had surprisingly left Masuk in February after 16 highly successful seasons -- including three state championships -- and moved north to New Milford High, a program which has achieved little success during its nearly half century.

"There was a lot coming up to it," Murphy said, "and I just hope that, from here on, we can just move on and put all that stuff away and they can leave me be."

Following the game, Murphy shook hands with the Masuk coaches while the players exchanged their respects. From out of the crowd, Panther quarterback Malik Cummings called for Murphy, approached his former coach and embraced him.

"He was the one who gave me this opportunity," Cummings said. "He taught me how to play quarterback. I wouldn't be where I am today without him. I just had to give him my respect."

Sunday's game featured plenty of Masuk highlights -- and a few for New Milford, too.

The Green Wave went punch-for-punch with Masuk early on and trailed only 14-12 after one quarter.

Murphy's crew pulled off a bit of trickery for its first score, as sophomore quarterback Tyler Hansen passed to Nick Kimball behind the line of scrimmage and he fired a strike to Scott Eherts for a stunning 58-yard scoring play.

After the Panthers had pulled ahead, 14-6, Tyler Hansen then threw a 53-yard scoring pass to Drew Hansen to cut the Wave's deficit to two points.

In the second half, Tyler Hansen threw touchdown passes to Kimball and and Drew Hansen, and A.J. MacDonald ran for a score.

Tyler Hansen finished with 251 passing yards, 186 of which went to Drew Hansen.

Isaiah Jenkins chipped in on defense with a sack.

"We expected to play a little bit better on the defensive side," Murphy said. "Some of the guys we were counting on, I don't know if it was the magnitude of the game or what, but we didn't tackle very well. Their skill guys were just too much for us."

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