NAUGATUCK — Torrington running back Brenden Lytton was just too much for Naugatuck to handle.
The Red Raiders senior rushed for 287 yards, scored four total touchdowns, and intercepted two passes to help defeat Naugatuck, 31-27, last Friday night at muddy Veterans Field.
“This is a huge win,” Lytton said. “It was do-or-die for us, and we came in and did what we needed to do.”
Torrington (3-2, 2-1 NVL Copper Division) went ahead in the second quarter when Lytton scored on a 46-yard screen pass from Jason Abbott to make it an 18-13 game at the half and the Raiders never again trailed.
Naugatuck (4-1, 2-1 Copper) rallied back throughout the second half, led by senior Jake Yourison. Yourison finished with 147 rushing yards and four total touchdowns. He accounted for all but 14 yards for the Greyhounds, who struggled to pass consistently.
“Some of the throws that we had tonight, we could have caught a couple,” Naugatuck coach Rob Plasky said. “We never got it going in the passing game tonight. They didn’t have to pass. We had some situations that we had to.”
Yourison took most snaps directly while quarterback Zac Mercer was used in some formations.
“We knew coming in that they were going to key [Yourison],” Plasky said. “We couldn’t go to our regular formations because they’d load the box.”
Still, Yourison was almost enough by himself to keep the Greyhounds perfect. He scored on the first series of the night with a 31-yard run up the middle, then followed it up with a 74-yard kickoff return touchdown to give Naugy a 13-6 lead after the first quarter.
In the third, Yourison busted a 14-yard touchdown to make it 24-21, but Lytton responded with his final score of the night on a 20-yard run to reopen the gap to 31-21 entering the fourth.
Yourison’s biggest play of the night was his fourth-and-2 conversion from midfield on which he sprung loose for a long touchdown to make it a 31-27 game midway through the final quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Lytton pounded away at the Naugatuck defense, converting on two third downs and eating up over seven minutes before Naugy’s Mike Giugno finally stopped Lytton on fourth-and-2 at the Greyhounds’ 12-yard line.
But Naugatuck couldn’t mount a final offensive rally. After gaining one first down on a fourth-down conversion, Lytton jumped a route and made a sliding interception to seal the game.
“We know Yourison has a great arm,” Lytton said. “I was just able to jump the pattern and get it.”
That play was the culmination of an all-star performance by a player who was tough to bring down all night.
“It wasn’t a matter of whether we were in position,” Plasky said. “He just busted tackles. He got it done tonight, just as Jake Yourison did. They both left it out on the field. If you’re going to lose, you have to lose like that. He won the game.”
Torrington’s Demetrius Dailey intercepted Yourison and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown to make it a 13-12 game early in the second quarter, a play which Plasky felt turned the momentum of the game.
“That one hurt,” Plasky said. “We had their backs against the wall. If we make a good drive there, we keep their backs against the wall and we’re in good shape.”
But the Raiders got off the wall and now Naugatuck faces the pressure this week in a huge Copper Division game against Holy Cross on Friday night at Municipal Stadium. The Crusaders are unbeaten in the division, and another loss for the ‘Hounds will likely put them out of contention.