NAUGATUCK — There was no time left on the scoreboard clock as Ansonia raced off the field, heading to the locker room at the half. The referees ruled the clock should have stopped because Naugatuck had gained a first down, leaving one second before the break.
Naugatuck quarterback Tyler Conklin is tackled by a host of Ansonia defenders, including Tyler Wood (48) and Bobby Kinnebrew (40), in the Hounds’ 56-20 loss to Ansonia Thanksgiving morning at Veterans Field. The loss was Naugy’s eighth-straight to Ansonia on Turkey Day.
Senior Marty DeJesus barreled in from a yard out, and Anthony McKernan booted the extra point as the Ansonia coaching staff stormed the field to protest the referee’s call to no avail.
Naugy trailed, 28-14, but had the momentum heading down the hill into the locker room. It marked the first time since 2005 that the Greyhounds got on the scoreboard against Ansonia in the holiday classic, and there was hope among the hometown crowd that this could be the year.
That hope vanished quickly when Nick O’Connor took the opening kickoff of the third quarter and weaved his way 81 yards to the end zone, eluding several tackles along the way, for a game-changing touchdown.
“We had talked about stopping Ansonia to three-and-out to start the third quarter,” Naugatuck head coach Rob Plasky said. “Then if we could have came down and scored, it would have been an entirely different ball game. O’Connor never gave us that chance, as he returned the kickoff, and it pretty much slipped away after that.
“Playing from behind, your offense becomes predictable, and Ansonia took advantage, coming up with key interceptions that fueled their offense in the third quarter.”
Ansonia went on to pile up 28 points in the third quarter to run away with a 56-20 win over Naugatuck in their highest-scoring meeting since a 56-28 Chargers win in 1976.
Ansonia (8-2) secured a berth in the Class S state playoffs and lost, 24-0, to Northwest Catholic (9-1) Tuesday in a semifinal. The Greyhounds closed out the season at 4-6.
Naugatuck was up against the wall early, as the Chargers burst out of the gate, claiming a 25-0 advantage with 10:42 left in the first half. Bobby Kinnebrew, who piled up 115 yards on just six carries, scored on runs of 28 and 74 yards to put Ansonia in front.
Christian Sobin scored the first of his two TDs on an 11-yard burst, and game MVP Nick O’Connor fired a 19-yard scoring strike to Marty Lawlor, putting the Chargers in control.
The Greyhounds were hampered by six turnovers (four interceptions, two fumbles) but got a spark from Dashawn Wingate, who scampered 16 yards into the end zone with 7:02 left in the half, ending NHS’ series scoring drought that began in 2006.
The Naugatuck defense stiffened on Ansonia’s next possession, forcing the Chargers to settle for a 22-yard Mike Palmquist field goal that made it a 28-7 game.
The Greyhounds took over with less than a minute left, and Tyler Conklin hooked up with Jamaal Gee on a 40-yard pass play. Iman Farimani pounded ahead for a first down, and DeJesus stuck it into the end zone for a 28-14 score.
Three consecutive turnovers by the Greyhounds after O’Connor’s kick return touchdown turned the game into a rout, as the deficit swelled to 56-14 heading into the final quarter.
Conklin hit Matt D’Agnone on a 14-yard pass play to put the final points on the board in the 56-20 loss, sending 2,000 Turkey Day fans home and ending an up-and-down season for the Greyhounds.