ANSONIA – The Naugatuck Greyhounds are the 2010 Naugatuck Valley League champions after throttling Ansonia, 38-20, on its own home field on Thanksgiving morning. An estimated crowd of 4,000 fans were on hand to witness one of the most complete team victories by the Greyhounds in almost 30 years.
During the past 110 games played between these two rivals, leaders have stepped up and delivered performances that go down in the history of this classic. One of those performances took place this year at Jarvis Stadium.
Naugatuck senior quarterback Erich Broadrick turned in one of the most outstanding performances in the history of this game, accounting for all five of the Greyhounds’ touchdowns to earn the Clarence Fortin Award as the game’s MVP.
The quarterback was 14-of-19 passing for 289 yards and three touchdowns and ran the ball seven times for 42 yards and two more touchdowns to lead the Hounds to victory.
It was no secret that Naugatuck came into this contest with one of the most athletic teams in years but history was against them as Ansonia had won 22 of the last 24 Turkey Day games.
Someone needed to step up and lead the way and Broadrick put the Hounds on his back and played the game of his career.
“I have learned a lot in the past three years,” said Broadrick. “The one thing I’ve learned is you have to keep working hard and look where we are at now.”
For as well as Broadrick played, they could have handed out about six more MVP awards the way the Greyhounds stepped up in the biggest game this team has ever played.
Reuban Berger carried the ball 10 times for 57 yards, caught four passes for 93 yards and threw a pass out of the wildcat formation for a 22-yard completion.
Tyler Conklin hauled in five passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns and Aaron Echevarria had five sacks to lead a defense that shut down the mighty Chargers’ running game.
“Since the start of the season all we wanted was an NVL championship,” said Echevarria. “Now we have it and it feels just great. We had our work cut out for us. Ansonia and Montrell Dobbs is a tough running game but we came in here with a purpose.”
That purpose was evident on the first series of the game as Naugatuck stuffed Dobbs and the Chargers forcing a three-and-out punt.
It took the Greyhounds only four plays to get on the scoreboard as Broadrick fired a 22-yard touchdown to Iman Farimani to put Naugatuck on top, 7-0.
The Chargers went three-and-out on four of their first six drives as the Naugatuck defense, led by Echevarria, Nate Hollie, Mike Giugno and Nick Douglass up front and linebackers Mike Schebell, Jake Yoursion, Andrew Cirino and Tim Woodfield shut down the running game.
Dobbs came in as the top running back in the state with 2,290 yards and 30 touchdowns. The Hounds held Dobbs to only two long runs and 25 carries for only 105 yards.
“We looked at a lot of game film that covered the last four or five games against Ansonia and we found what was missing,” said Naugatuck coach Rob Plasky.
Naugatuck pushed the lead to 14-0 when Broadrick punched it in from a yard out with 5:10 left in the first quarter. It marked the first time Naugatuck had a two-touchdown lead over Ansonia in 20 years.
The Chargers didn’t come into this game undefeated by accident, as they went to work and tied the game just before the half. Arkeel Newsome pounded it in from 10 yards out to close out the first quarter and, on what appeared to be the final drive of the half, Ansonia tied the game on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Elliott Chudwick to Jake Larovera.
But there were still 34 seconds left and instead of taking a knee, Naugatuck went right after it. Broadrick picked up a pair of first-down runs before Mick Pernell split the uprights on a 31-yard field goal to put the Hounds back on top, 17-14.
The Broadrick-to-Conklin connection produced two, 60-plus-yard touchdowns that electrified the Hounds’ crowd and the belief of an NVL title and a spot in the state playoffs became very real.
Naugatuck took a 32-20 lead into the final quarter. In spite of fumbling the ball away on four of six drives in the second half it was the big passing plays and a spectacular defensive effort that put this one in the win column.
Hollie, Giugno, and Jordan Grice recorded sacks that killed Ansonia drives but the biggest showstopper was Echevarria, who had five sacks in the second half as the Naugatuck defense came up with nine sacks to put the game away.
“The guys in the trenches were relentless,” Plasky said. “They never took a play off. You win championships with defense and that’s what we had today.”
It was only fitting that Broadrick put the final nail in the coffin, sneaking in from five yards out with just 2:32 left for the 38-20 margin of victory.
“We came in here with a game plan of putting guys in the box to stop their running game and they got the job done,” said Plasky. “But Erich showed what kind of leader he is today. He put the team on his back and played an outstanding game.”
The Greyhounds earned the No. 3 seed in the Class L playoffs and will host No. 6 New Canaan Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. The winner will face either No. 2 Daniel Hand or No. 7 North Haven in the semifinals Dec. 4.