SEYMOUR — The Greyhounds scored the first touchdown of the game then came back from a 13-12 fourth-quarter deficit to upend the No. 4 Wildcats, 27-13, at DeBarber Field last Thursday night.
Junior running back Dashawn Wingate tallied two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with about six minutes remaining in the game. With Seymour driving on its ensuing possession, junior cornerback Tyler Conklin intercepted a deflected pass by Cats quarterback Connor Shugrue, bolted 57 yards up the left sideline, and was brought down finally at the 2-yard line. Two plays later, senior running back Marty DeJesus plunged into the end zone to seal the victory.
“I told them would you rather play a team that was 0-10 last year that has no reputation or would you rather play the [No.] 4 [or] 5 team in the state, go out on their field, and get something done?” head coach Rob Plasky said. “What’s going to make the statement? Who’s going to start turning their heads now? Everybody, right?”
The victory doubled as a 39th birthday present to Plasky, who tried unsuccessfully to avoid a water-cooler bath after the final whistle.
It also was a coming-out party for Wingate, who made his first varsity start. Plasky said earlier in the week that the Hounds will employ a three-back rotation. After the win, he insisted that plan won’t change, “but the bottom line is, you have to go with the hot hand.”
After surrendering the first 27 points of last year’s contest, a 48-20 defeat, Naugatuck showed right away this game would be different. Driving with 3:27 to play in the first quarter, junior quarterback Erich Broadrick hit classmate Tyler Conklin along the right sideline for a 34-yard score. It was the Hounds’ first offensive touchdown in 10 quarters, dating back to last season. Naugatuck led, 6-0, after Nakeem Robinson’s PAT was blocked.
Seymour responded midway through the second, when Shugrue found Taylor Searles in the left corner of the end zone on fourth-and-seven from the 16-yard line. That knotted the game at six, where it stood at halftime.
The first-half draw clearly emboldened the Garnet and Grey. As the visitors warmed up before the start of the third quarter, senior captain Dan Mariano could be heard shouting, “People said we didn’t stand a chance!”
Naugy continued to prove that was not the case on a steady drive that began at its own 30-yard line and ended with Wingate’s first-career TD, a 2-yard leap over the line that gave his team a 12-6 edge. Plasky called for a fake PAT, but Broadrick’s pass eluded Iman Farimani in the end zone.
For a moment—when Shugrue hit paydirt on a 1-yard sneak later in the quarter and Bobby Gombos converted the Wildcats’ PAT for a 13-12 lead—it appeared Naugatuck’s special teams miscues might be costly. But Broadrick again commanded his offense down the field, and Wingate capped the fourth-quarter drive with another 2-yard score, this one a jog off left tackle. The Greyhounds went for two, Wingate performing a reprise of the previous play to make it 20-13.
By then, the boisterous and numerous Naugy faithful was in a frenzy. The scene on the sideline was no less composed. Players charged off the field with energy not displayed at any point during the 2008 campaign that yielded a 3-8 record.
“Who’s back?” Broadrick shouted to no one and everyone at the same time. “Naugatuck’s back!”