By Dan Canavan
On a cold and blustery day at Rentschler field, the Colonials dropped a heartbreaker to Jeff Garcia and the star-studded Omaha Nighthawks. A bad snap over the head of quarterback Josh McCown killed a late drive and sealed the 19-14 loss in front of an announced crowd of 14,056. The Colonials lost to Omaha in a similar fashion on September 24th, losing a tight game again in the fourth quarter.
“It was kind of like the first game” said Nighthawk running back Ahman Green, adding that “Once we got the lead, it was about playing four-minute offense and making them use their timeouts.”
The windy conditions forced both teams to rely on their running games early. Green led the Hawks with 76 yards on 16 carries, while Robert Ferguson caught six passes for 88 yards. Lorenzo Booker ran for 89 yards on 16 carries and caught 4 passes for 30 yards. Omaha Quarterback Garcia completed 18-of-34 passes for 185 yards and 2 touchdowns, while McCown completed 13-of-26 passes for 142 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions for Hartford. But the high snap over the head of McCown late in the fourth quarter sealed the Colonials’ fate.
“Again, we continue to hurt ourselves. We had four turnovers today” said Hartford head coach Chris Palmer after the game. “I still think we have the makings of a pretty good football team. We just self-destruct.”
Off the field, however, the Colonials have continued to grow their fan base, maintain a presence in the community, and develop their brand in the Greater Hartford area. And while the casual fan may not be impressed with the Colonials’ attendance figures, Hartford’s crowds have been on par with UFL expectations. The Colonials drew 14,384 for their home opener, and have maintained an average crowd of 14,302 over the course of the season, which puts Hartford right in the middle of the pack for UFL attendance. Florida and Las Vegas, both of which are playing in their second UFL season, are drawing on average less than 10,000 a game. Omaha and Sacramento are on the other end of the attendance spectrum, drawing average crowds of over 20,000.
UConn football fans are used to packing Rentschler Field with 40,000 fans for most home games. But comparing the upstart Colonials with UConn football in a Husky crazed state is probably not a fair comparison. And compared to their UFL counterparts, the Colonials have established themselves as a solid franchise, building a strong fan base in their inaugural season. They just need to start playing better in the fourth quarter.
Connecticut football fans have one last chance to see the Colonials in action this season. On November 20th, Hartford will host Las Vegas at Rentschler Field in their season finale