WATERBURY — One hundred twenty-five points in two games isn’t too bad.
Naugatuck followed up its record-setting win over St. Paul with a dominant, 55-12 win over Sacred Heart last Thursday night at a rainy Municipal Stadium.
Naugy’s two-game scoring total — almost entirely coming in about four quarters of varsity action — speaks for itself.
“Any time a team scores 125 points in two games, that has to make some kind of statement,” said running back Mick Pernell, who has been nothing short of the Naugatuck Valley League’s breakout player through four weeks.
Fresh off a four-touchdown effort in the win over the Falcons, Pernell upped the ante and scored five times within the first 16 minutes of the game.
His first trip to the end zone came 1:28 into the first quarter when he slipped past a pair of Sacred Heart (1-3) defenders at the line of scrimmage and jetted down the left sideline for a 55-yard touchdown.
On the next Naugatuck (3-1) series, he took a pitch on the second play for a 15-yard touchdown.
The Greyhounds’ following offensive play saw Pernell blow past every Heart defensive back and run for a 48-yard score. On four total plays, Pernell made it 21-0.
He wasn’t done.
Pernell decided to get back into the action early in the second quarter, a few minutes after touchdowns by Jerome Love and Josh Aviles gave Naugy a 35-6 lead.
Brandon Kuczenski’s blocked punt gave Naugy red-zone field position at the 17. Two plays later, Pernell waltzed in from 6 yards out.
A similarly botched punt on the Hearts’ next series put the ball on Sacred Heart’s 20. Pernell, a 5-foot-8 senior, decided not to waste any more time and caught a touchdown pass from Jason Bradley on the ensuing play. 49-6 was a big enough lead, especially considering Naugy scored its seven first-half touchdowns on 13 plays in a whopping 4:10 of possession.
“Our line blocked great, Brandon (Kuczenski) blocked, Jerome (Love) blocked, the wide receivers blocked,” Pernell said. “You’re only as good as the guys blocking for you. Those guys did all the work.”
But their work wasn’t work, really. It was fun.
“It’s great,” senior lineman Devon Watkins said of blocking for Pernell. “It keeps you up. You don’t get down if you make a mistake because you know he’s going to be there to make something happen. We see it as our team doesn’t get anywhere without the offensive line.”
Pernell finished with 158 rushing yards on just seven attempts, four of which finished in the end zone. Through four games, he leads the NVL with 586 rushing yards, 10 rushing touchdowns, 815 total yards and 15 total touchdowns.
“I didn’t see it coming,” Naugatuck interim coach Shawn Kuczenski said of Pernell’s superb success. “He just works hard. He works hard and runs hard and doesn’t settle. He pushes the guys in practice.”
Those whom Pernell and Kuczenski have pushed include the offensive line, which is primarily comprised of sophomores. Watkins is the only healthy upperclassman in the trenches, where Kuczenski has seen vast improvement since Naugy’s 21-20 loss to Derby in Week 2.
“We’re clicking,” Kuczenski said. “The last two weeks our line has really worked hard. We’ve just upped the tempo. We learned from Derby. That week we didn’t practice well and since then we’ve worked harder. We’re spending a lot of time working with them on inside drills and it’s really paying off. And we’re starting to get healthy.”
Naugy has a stiff challenge Friday when it begins a tough string of Copper Division games at Torrington. Watkins thinks his team’s 3-1 start has instilled confidence in the ‘Hounds after their utterly crazy preseason.
“I think that the first four games got us on our feet after the whole thing with coach (Plasky),” Watkins said. “Now we’re ready to go.”