The Greyhounds scored the potential game-tying touchdown with just minutes left but Derby blocked the extra point to come away with a 21-20 win last Friday night at DeFilippo Field.
“We just have to get better, Naugatuck interim coach Shawn Kuczenski said. “I told the kids, remember what this feels like because we don’t want to feel like that again.”
Trailing 21-14, the Greyhounds (1-1) made a fourth-quarter drive as senior Mick Pernell converted on a fourth-and-7 pass from Jason Bradley to pick up a first down at the Derby 27-yard line. Three plays later, Bradley scored on a 1-yard sneak but Derby’s Tyrae Small blocked the game-tying extra point attempt by Josh Aviles to keep Naugy a point behind.
The Greyhounds didn’t reach the scoring end of the field for the last six minutes of the game.
Naugy took the lead on the first play of the game when Pernell returned the opening kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown. Aviles’ point after gave the ‘Hounds a 7-0 advantage.
But the Greyhounds struggled for the rest of the half and into the third quarter. Derby scored twice in the second quarter on big plays. Justin Olenoski evened up the game with a 77-yard run before Josh Russell caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Michael Kreiger to give the Red Raiders a 14-7 halftime edge.
Derby’s Matt Nicolari scored on another big play, sprinting 89 yards early in the third quarter to give the Red Raiders a 21-7 lead.
Aside from the three game-breaking plays, Kuczenski thought Naugy’s defense held its own.
“We played pretty well,” Kuczenski said. “We made three mistakes that hurt us. We’ve been telling the guys they have to play defense the way we want it played. That’s what it comes down to.”
Naugy had nowhere near the offensive success it enjoyed in the season-opening win against Wilby as Derby made Pernell work for all of his yardage.
Pernell, coming off a four-touchdown performance against the Wildcats, scored just one offensive touchdown on 33 touches. That came in the third quarter when he took Bradley’s pass 21 yards for a touchdown to cut the Greyhounds’ deficit to 21-14.
Pernell finished with 29 carries for 122 yards. The team carried 43 times for 136 yards, an average of just 3.2 yards per attempt.
Bradley also struggled after a breakout first game. He completed just four of 13 passes for 70 yards and two interceptions after throwing none in Week 1.
“They did a real good job,” Kuczenski said. “They loaded up the box and took away our running lanes. We didn’t have time to throw the ball. They sent more guys than we could block. This week we’ve been working on our line with blocking schemes. We need to block until the whistle. We noticed in the film kids were hitting once and then stopping.”
Naugy begins Naugatuck Valley League Copper Division play Friday with the Greyhounds’ home opener against St. Paul, who has allowed more than 50 points in each of its two losses. The game will be broadcast on WATR 1320 AM and watr.com.
“I think if we come and play every week, we have a real good chance of winning the division,” Kuczenski said. “The kids learned a lesson this week that they need to play for four quarters instead of just two.”