NAUGATUCK — The Greyhounds ran rampant as they opened up the 2016 season Sept. 9 with a decisive second-half comeback against Derby.
Naugatuck headed into the locker room at halftime trailing the Red Raiders 21-6. It was all Naugatuck in the second half as the Greyhounds scored 38 unanswered points to run away with a 44-21 victory.
While there were mistakes and missed opportunities in the first half, Naugatuck head coach Craig Bruno said the message conveyed to the ‘Hounds in the locker room at the half was of hope and belief in their abilities.
“The main thing we said was to remain calm and believe in yourselves. You know how hard you worked to get here, so let’s continue to keep pressing and continue to believe in each other,” Bruno said. “That’s what I was most proud of. The guys stayed right with us. They played very, very hard to the end.”
Naugatuck (1-0) wasted little time striking in the third quarter.
Quarterback Mike Plasky hit Tyler Deitelbaum for a 33-yard touchdown 55 seconds into the half to cap a 59-yard touchdown drive. Deitelbaum added the two-point conversion to cut Derby’s lead to 21-14.
On Naugatuck’s next possession, Plasky found Deitelbaum again for a touchdown on fourth and 3 from the Derby 8. Daniel Oladapo added the two-point conversion to put Naugatuck ahead 22-21, a lead the Greyhounds wouldn’t relinquish.
After a mishandled snap on a punt set the Greyhounds up in Red Raider territory, Naugatuck capitalized with a touchdown courtesy of running back Devon Biancarelli-Milano to stretch the lead to 30-21 early in the fourth.
Plasky said things began to come together in the second half for the ‘Hounds as they found a rhythm.
“Everything just started clicking in the second half,” Plasky said. “I was able to put balls in the receivers’ [hands]. The receivers made some great catches, and defensively all 11 guys were clicking together. … I’m glad were able to turn things around in the second half.”
With the score at 30-21 the Garnett and Grey defense put Derby away behind two massive plays by linebacker Hubert Lutzykowski.
With 7:42 left in the game, Lutzykowski intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown. On Derby’s next possession, with the Red Raiders backed up against their own goal line, Lutzykowski found the ball yet again.
Lutzykowski sacked Derby quarterback Ty’Rique Evans-Pergee and forced a fumble that Cameron Litwinka recovered and ran into the end zone to give Naugatuck a commanding, 44-21 lead.
“I was pumped,” Lutzykowski said. “[Coming] out of locker room we were all riled up. We had to come back from a 21-6 deficit. I just had to play like a beast.”
Bruno attributed Lutzykowski’s performance to his work ethic in practice.
The Red Raiders managed to grab an early lead in the first quarter. With 2:14 in left in the first quarter and 7-6 on the scoreboard, Derby’s Josh Vega returned a kickoff following Naugatuck’s first touchdown. Derby found the end zone again early in the second quarter courtesy of junior Zaire Flowers.
That would be the Red Raiders last trip to the end zone.
Naugatuck will hit the road Friday to play against the Seymour Wildcats (1-0), who are coming off of a 49-7 victory against Torrington.