NAUGATUCK — Before Naugatuck’s senior night football game Nov. 15 against Kennedy, nobody doubted that the Greyhounds would come out with an easy win. But the first play of the evening — an interception thrown by Naugy’s Jason Bradley — prompted a little bit of worry for the ‘Hounds faithful.
“We practiced well all week, but that embarrassing interception was a little deflating,” Bradley said. “They marched on us a little bit, but we bounced back from it.”
Naugatuck sure did, routing the Eagles by a 45-7 score to post a sixth victory in a row and come within one game of making the Class L playoffs.
It took a little while for the ‘Hounds to click, as they allowed the Eagles to churn up about 150 yards over the first 15 minutes. Ty’zhon Young’s touchdown run early in the second cut Naugy’s lead to 14-7, which grabbed Naugatuck’s attention enough to refocus.
“We came out and underestimated Kennedy,” Naugatuck’s Ryne Griesenauer said. “They ran the ball hard and gave us a little scare. It took us a little while to wake up, but when we did we showed them what we’re made of.”
Bradley accounted for all seven of the Greyhounds’ touchdowns, six via the air and a 31-yard run in the fourth quarter, to give him 25 total in Naugy’s last four games.
His only mistake of the night came on the game-opening interception.
“I had Kevin Robinson wide open deep down the field, and my front foot slipped out from under me so I couldn’t get everything into it,” said Bradley, who completed 12 of 20 passes for 199 yards and added 91 rushing yards. “I was pissed that I threw an interception on the first play of the game, but every play can’t be the perfect play. We bounced back from it.”
Naugatuck (9-1), which lost out on the Naugatuck Valley League Copper Division title thanks to Woodland’s comeback win over Derby, allowed Kennedy to drive all the way to the red zone on the ensuing series before Maleek Brooks picked off a fourth-down pass in the end zone to keep the game scoreless.
With that defensive stop under their belts, the ‘Hounds lived up to their speedy namesakes on almost every possession the rest of the way. Their first scoring drive, a six-play set that covered 80 yards and ended on Griesenauer’s 12-yard touchdown catch, took just 1:04.
After Socrates Ilunga blocked a Kennedy punt, Bradley found Rick Plasky on the next play for another 12-yard score and a 14-0 lead.
In the second quarter, Bradley hooked up with Bryan Coney for two touchdowns (25 and 45 yards) and Tom Douty for a 9-yarder to give Naugy a 33-7 lead at the half. Bradley added a 10-yard touchdown pass to Griesenauer in the third, and tacked on his 31-yard touchdown run early in the fourth.
In all, Naugatuck’s seven scoring drives averaged fewer than five plays and 70 seconds.
“It doesn’t take us long,” Bradley said. “We have a very quick offense and the play clock is probably around 20 seconds when we snap it. We try to catch teams out of position and it works.”
“(Naugy coach Craig) Bruno teaches speed, speed, speed,” Griesenauer added. “Even if it’s a drop, a loss or a 50-yard gain, you have to get up to the ball and run the next play. You have to keep teams off-balance.”
Griesenauer finished with five catches for 90 yards. He and Coney have combined to snag 24 of Bradley’s 34 touchdown passes this season. That duo, plus the running of Tom Douty (five carries for 47 yards), has Naugy feeling as though it is playing at its highest level of the season entering Thanksgiving against Ansonia.
“We’re playing some good football,” said Bradley, whose team can clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Chargers. “We’re throwing up a lot of points and our defense all season has been fairly great. We’ve been good in all aspects, and heading into Ansonia is the best time to be playing your best football.”