The Naugatuck Greyhounds ran for seven touchdowns and quarterback Erich Broadrick threw for 160 yards on 13 of 18 passing to give the Hounds an edge-of-your seat 46-34 win over Sacred Heart on Friday night at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury.
In a game filled with big play the biggest might have come with a little over three minutes to play. Sacred Heart had all the momentum having scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to cut a 39-20 deficit down to 39-34 with 4:36 to play.
After two plays Naugatuck faced third and eight at midfield and the Hearts were just one play away from getting the ball back with enough time to score the potential winning touchdown.
Broadrick looked left then tucked the ball away and headed around the right side for a ten yard bootleg. That moved the chains and secured another four downs for the Greyhounds.
“I told him in the timeout to look for the tight end,” said Naugatuck head coach Rob Plasky.
“If he was covered take it yourself. If we had to punt I was comfortable leaving the game up to our defense.”
“That was the first time all year that we faced adversity and the guys battled through it and came out with the victory.”
The white knuckle affair ended quickly after the first down was made when Andrew Cirino (2 touchdowns, 88 yards rushing) took it around the corner and went 38 yards to the house.
The Naugatuck sidelines erupted and Mick Pernell booted the extra point to open up a 46-34 advantage with only 1:19 left on the clock.
Rohan Ifill the Sacred Heart quarterback threw for 385 yards on 21 of 36 passing and four touchdowns but launched the fifth interception of the game as Iman Farimani came down with it at the Naugatuck 42 yard line.
Sacred Heart came in at 4-1 with a big play offense and they didn’t disappoint their fans as Dave Coggins latched onto 8 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns. Dave Plaza hauled in 6 balls for 116 yards and a touchdown.
What did the Hearts in was a Naugatuck defense that created pressure up front with Aaron Echevarria, Mike Giugno, Nick Douglass and Mike Schebell constantly getting into the backfield.
That hurried some of the throws by Ifill that led to Tyler Conklin coming away with two interceptions and Jake Yourision, Marquan Williams and Farimani hauling down picks to stall the Hearts attack.
Coggins who came in with 51 catches for 889 yards made his catches but Reuban Berger limited the damage knocking away several passes that negated long gains. That is why Sacred Heart was chasing the lead the entire game.
Yourision (92 yards rushing and two touchdowns) quickly gave Naugatuck a 12-0 lead in the first quarter on runs of 29 and five yards into the end zone.
The Ifill to Coggins show began in the second quarter when an 80 yard pass play stirred up the excitement and cut the deficit at 12-6.
Cirino got behind Nate Hollie and pushed his way nine yards into the end zone. Dashawn Wingate continued the punishing Hounds rushing game taking it into the end zone twice following the blocks of Rob Colucci to open up a commanding 33-14 lead at the half.
The Hearts came out and went on a 12 play drive in the third quarter to cut the deficit at 33-20. Naugatuck was not to be denied as Shawn Freeney picked up a pair of crucial first downs before Broadrick took the rock into the end zone to open up a 39-20 lead heading into the final quarter.
“We needed a game like this,” added Plasky. “We have been losing a little focus in practice lately and the guys came to me and said we need to get that edge back.”
“I think this game will give us that edge back. Our defense bent but didn’t break and we made some big plays in big spots and that’s what good teams do.”
“It’s not about what’s on the scoreboard it’s all about the ‘W’ at this point in the season. And a win is a win.”
Naugatuck will be back at Municipal Stadium this week when they take on the Kennedy Eagles.