TORRINGTON — In the span of 5 minutes and 39 seconds a nine-point lead transformed into an 11-point deficit for the Greyhounds last Friday night against Torrington.
Naugatuck appeared to seize momentum when Mike Plasky hit Jalen Datil for a 38-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to open up an 18-7 lead.
Torrington responded as Connor Finn threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to senior Zack Mancini. Tyler Marens added the two-point conversion, cutting Naugy’s lead to 18-15.
The Red Raiders recovered a fumble on the subsequent kickoff. After a short drive, Finn hit Mancini again for a 48-yard touchdown pass to give Torrington a 21-18 lead.
Almost as if a jolt of déjà vu struck the field, the Red Raiders recovered another fumble on the ensuing kickoff after a line-drive kick bounced off the back of a Greyhound in the front line. Soon after, Finn connected with Mancini yet again on a 28-yard pass for a third quarter hat trick. Newton Frias added the two-point conversion and the Greyhounds quickly found themselves down 29-18.
The floodgates were open, and Torrington cruised to a 57-26 win to hand Naugatuck (2-1) its first loss of the season.
After the first loss of the season, Naugatuck head coach Craig Bruno felt the ‘Hounds didn’t give up the win without a fight. Devastating as the defeat may be, there was no lack of effort, he said.
“I think everyone’s going to point to the couple of kickoffs. [Those] were big plays, but it was a lot,” Bruno said. “They started moving the ball a little bit at will at the end. I thought we gave one hell of an effort. The kids were playing real hard. We were excited for the game and ready.”
Torrington (3-0) opened the scoring on a 4-yard touchdown from Ignacio Reynoso. Zak Mancini kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Naugatuck responded with two unanswered scores. A 38-yard pass from tailback Antoine Sistrunk to Datil in the first quarter and a 14-yard rushing touchdown by Sistrunk in the second gave the Greyhounds a 12-7 lead heading into the half.
But, the second half belonged the Torrington, which tallied four more scores following the third quarter onslaught.
The Greyhounds scored one final touchdown after a hard-fought drive. After a 30-yard run by Tyler Deitelbaum to the Torrington 1-yard line, Sistrunk ran it in and added the two-point conversion.
“A lot of games take on a life of their own and I felt that they (Torrington) were a talented team,” Bruno said.
Torrington’s defense contained the Greyhounds’ run-heavy offense, led by Sistrunk, Deitlebaum, and Devan Biancarelli, through most of the game.
“Offensively we were doing OK, we just needed to stay on our blocks a little longer,” Sistrunk said. “I feel like their line was quicker, and their backs were also quick. It wasn’t like the usual team. I had to work harder to get open.”
For a team that yielded only three touchdowns in two previous games, the momentum swing in the third quarter and execution of Torrington’s offense virtually picked apart the Greyhounds’ defense.
According to Naugatuck defensive captain Logan Bond, while the team fought hard on the line, Torrington found holes in the defense with screen passes.
“[With] their normal pass game our D-backs could’ve had a little more coverage, but on the screen that’s where they were really getting us,” Bond said. “We’re not used to having guys that big, but on defense I felt like we still gave them a bit of a push. O-line, we need to work on holding our blocks a little longer.”
Naugatuck will be facing another difficult team Friday night when they host Wolcott (3-0) at 7 p.m. Bruno and the Greyhounds are already preparing for a showdown with the Eagles.
“We know we got another tough opponent next week, maybe as good as this team, if not better,” Bruno said. “They are really good, and we got to get ready. We have to get physical. They are going to try to run the ball at us, and there are a lot of things we got to work on, and we’ll do that.”