WATERTOWN — The Naugatuck football team faced a three-game skid that derailed their postseason hopes and there was only one thing to do. The easiest choice would be to quit. The tough choice is to keep on fighting. The most rewarding choice is to overcome adversity and show everyone the character of the team.
The Greyhounds went out and did just that as they defeated Watertown on Monday by a 29-13 margin, improving to 5-3 on the season.
“We set things straight in practice this week,” Naugatuck head coach Rob Plasky said. “We, as a coaching staff, are going to give it everything we have preparing the team to play each week and we expect the players to do the same.”
Quarterback Ricky Plasky made his first varsity start in place of the injured Zac Mercer and completed his only pass for 8 yards. Jake Yourison handled double duty, rushing for 92 yards and two touchdowns while throwing for 88 yards on 5-of-13 passing including a touchdown pass to Mick Pernell for 50 yards.
Nick Kosa stepped into a major role as he carried 14 times for 67 hard yards and a touchdown. As solid as the offense looked, several key defensive plays defined how Naugatuck went about closing this game out and sticking it in the win column.
Pernell made an interception at midfield to stop a Watertown (2-6) drive. Matt Carda came up with a monster hit that dropped a Watertown runner in his tracks behind the line of scrimmage.
Tim Woodfield, Mike Schebell, Mike Giugno and Nikko Cari made fourth-quarter sacks to ensure the Indians would not make a late comeback. But the play that got things turned around came at the end of the first half.
With under a minute to play before the break, Naugatuck was forced to punt deep in its own territory while clinging to a 7-6 lead. Giugno charged downfield and stripped the ball away from punt returner Eric Ford. Besim Bomova was there to pick it up and raced down the sidelines 42 yards to the Watertown 3-yard line with 35 seconds left on the clock.
Yourison punched it into the end zone and then tacked on the two-point conversion run to up the advantage at 15-6 at the half.
That play would loom large as Watertown came out in the third quarter and Anthony Avoletta (24 carries for 149 yards) busted one 57 yards into the end zone to cut the deficit to 15-13.
Pernell later got off a 55-yard punt to pin the Indians back on their own goal line to start the fourth quarter. That sparked the defense as Naugatuck started to make some key plays preventing Watertown from finding the end zone again.
Pernell’s midfield interception gained possession for the ‘Hounds, and on the next offensive play he hauled in a 50-yard touchdown pass to up the advantage to 22-13.
Naugatuck closed out the scoring with 2:07 remaining when Kosa busted through the line from 3 yards out for the 29-13 final margin.
The Greyhounds took an early lead when Yourison rumbled 48 yards down the sidelines before taking it in from 9 yards out to give Naugatuck a 7-0 lead with 1:25 left in the first quarter.
Watertown closed the gap to 7-6 when quarterback Andy Biello snuck it in from a yard out with 6:14 remaining in the first half.
Naugy will be at home on Friday when it hosts Kennedy in the final tune-up for the Thanksgiving Day game with Ansonia.
“Nothing has changed around here since the first day of the season,” Plasky said. “We had a few lineup changes due to injuries and some players not being out there. But we are going to put the players out there that want to be out there. No one player is bigger than the program and that is how we are going to treat the rest of this season.”