NAUGATUCK — The Greyhounds built a methodical, 14-0 first-quarter lead over Derby, and then the switch was turned off. Derby, the new kids on the block in the NVL, responded with 20 unanswered points to pin a loss on the Greyhounds by a 20-14 margin in overtime.
The Red Raiders served notice to the NVL last week with their shocking 42-40 win over Sacred Heart on a field goal with no time left on the clock. In case some teams didn’t get the memo, they did it again in almost-as-dramatic fashion. Derby came into Naugatuck on Friday and left Veterans Field with a W, improving to 2-1, as the Greyhounds fell to 2-1.
“It was like a switch was turned off,” Naugatuck head coach Rob Plasky said . “Up 14-0 on your home field, a good football team has to put the dagger in its opponent. We didn’t do that. Instead we turned a switch off and for the rest of the game, the coaching staff tried to get it turned on again.”
It was certainly Naugatuck’s game to win as Erich Broadrick (4-of-8 passing for 78 yards) engineered a five-play drive on the Greyhounds’ initial possession. Dashawn Wingate (149 yards) ripped off a 15-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage. Jake Yourison (54 yards) came within one tackle of taking it to the house, going 32 yards down the sidelines.
That set up a Broadrick-to-Tyler-Conklin, 12-yard touchdown pass with 10:24 to go in the opening quarter for a 6-0 advantage, as the extra point kick went wide.
On the third Derby play of the game, quarterback Ray Krieger got a little too much on a pass, and Marquan Williams came up with an interception for the Greyhounds.
It took only seven plays from the Naugatuck 43-yard line to hit paydirt again. Wingate and Andrew Cirino took turns pounding it into the Derby line. Anthony McKernan, Aaron Echevarria, Dan Bergeron and Nikko Cari opened up the holes in the trenches, as Wingate took off on a 41-yard blast.
That set up a first-and-goal from the 1, and Broadrick barreled in from there. Cirino hauled in the two-point conversion pass for a 14-0 Naugatuck advantage with 5:57 still left in the first quarter.
Derby responded with a 17-play drive that took more than eight minutes off the clock, piling up five first downs and converting two fourth-down tries. D’Ron Conyers (149 yards) and Linbert Cousley (64 yards) began to pick up large chunks of real estate, as the chains continued to move down field.
Then the Naugatuck defense, led by Dan Mariano and Ken Jones, began to stiffen inside the red zone. Derby was standing on the doorstep with a first-and-goal from the 5. After two plays gained three rushing yards, Mariano and Jones broke through and dropped Cousley for a loss, bringing up fourth down.
Rob Colucci and Mariano sacked the Derby quarterback, and the longest drive of the night was stalled at the Naugatuck 2-yard line. The Greyhounds gave it back when they lost it on downs at the 37-yard line.
The Naugatuck defense again held off the Red Raiders, stopping a fourth-and-inches from the 13-yard line of the Greyhounds. Broadrick tried to get it down field with 38 seconds left before the half but was intercepted as time ran out.
“I could sense it that we started playing not to lose,” Plasky said. “Our own players felt it, as Marty DeJesus said the same thing. To Derby’s credit, they stuck with their game plan, and I’m sure at halftime they were happier about the score than we were.
“That was a lesson learned. It was a total program loss. We completely lost this game, staff and players included. We as a coaching staff couldn’t find a way to turn that switch back on.”
In the third quarter, the game turned in Derby’s favor. The Naugatuck defense forced the Red Raiders to punt, but the Greyhounds drive stalled at the Derby 10-yard line.
That would have put the game out of reach but instead, on the next play, Conyers took a pitch outside and rambled 90 yards down the sidelines, as the frenzied Raider fans went wild.
It was a game again at 14-7, heading into the fourth quarter. The Greyhounds offense responded with a punt and another loss of downs, allowing Derby that one extra chance to get back in the game.
That came with 4:53 to play when Krieger got a pass over the Naugatuck secondary and hooked up with Jacob Tomczak on an 80-yard pass play for another electrifying touchdown and a 14-14 game.
In overtime, Derby elected to go on defense and came up with a fumble to stop Naugatuck at the 7-yard line. The Red Raiders gave it to Cousley, who busted ahead for nine yards. On the final play of the game, Krieger followed his blockers into the end zone for the stunning, 20-14 win as the Red Raiders stormed the field in celebration.