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2011 Year in Review. October 8. Did Torrington football run up the score in 80-39 win over St Paul? Read what Timothy W. Gaffney thinks.
TORRINGTON: On hundred and nineteen points. 119 points. In one football game. No matter how you say it or spell it, that’s a mind-numbing, could you please check that again, boat load of points. Especially in a high school football game.
Two hot topics have come out of the Torrington Raiders, 80-39 win over visiting the St Paul Falcon’s on Friday night. One is very positive for the now 2-2 Raiders, who rolled out a new offense led by junior quarterback Phil Bresson that pummeled an overmatched Falcon team with a 61-point first half that was as varied as it was spectacular.
Let’s face it, since he broke onto the scene as a last minute injury replacement last September against a heavily favored East Lyme team, Brenden Lytton has been 98 percent of the Raiders offense.
In that game, Lytton led an upstart team out to a lead that would be challenged but not overtaken in a 20-14 win over a Vikings team that had made a nice run in the State Tournament the year before.
The rest, as they say, has been historic for Lytton who rushed for better than 2200 yards in 2010 and had been the Raiders mainstay over their first three games.
Something was missing though. Handing the ball off to their horse 40 times had started to get just a little to predictable and onlookers wondered if head coach Dan Dunaj and his staff would make the necessary adjustments in time to keep the momentum they had built over the last three years, flowing forward.
Consider the question answered with a load affirmative, adjustments made.
“We had started to work with Phil over the last two weeks.” Dunaj said Friday night. “He is a great athlete and team player who stepped up and did what his team needed him to do.”
Another player who put team first was junior Jason Abbott, who had helped the Raiders to their 7-3 record a year ago and was the starter in the first three games this season.
So when the Raiders won the toss and elected to receive on Friday night, most settled in and watched for the handoff from Abbott to Lytton on the opening drive but instead saw both Lytton and Abbot lined up in a five-wide, spread offense, with Bresson in the shotgun.
The games first play from scrimmage was not Lytton for a bunch and a cloud of dust but a 12-yard completion from Bresson to Lytton.
Clearly, the Falcons and every other team on the planet had gotten used to stacking the line with eight to nine defenders in an effort to stop the train they knew was coming down the tracks at any moment.
That first drive consisted of eight plays; five passes and three runs.
The last 24-yards where taken by Lytton, who stretched the ball over the goal line from about the two for the games first points.
A second pleasant surprise arrived just then to kick the extra point, yes I said kick the extra point, a sometimes novel approach these days in high school ball.
Freshman P.J. Kilmartin, who will never be the center on the Raiders basketball team, brought with him though, a huge leg that split the uprights for the first of seven times on the night.
Torrington’s opening drive was set up by a player who would have the night of his young career as well.
Junior Joan Toribeo took the opening kickoff from his own five and flew out past midfield to the Falcon’s 45 for a 50-yard return.
He was just getting started though.
After Bresson hooked up with Lytton on a 64-yard bomb down the left sideline, the Raiders “D” forced a St Paul punt.
Toribeo fielded the ball on the second hop at his own 20 and several great moves and a serious afterburner later, found the end zone for an 80-yard TD, and a 21-0 Raiders lead with three minutes left in the first.
Another Bresson touchdown pass followed before Toribeo would get another crack at a run back.
For some reason, the Falcon’s kept kicking deep to the junior and for the second time, this time for 70-yards, Toribeo left all in his wake on a cruise to the promised land.
The Falcon’s got on the board when Winsted native Logan Marchi threw the first of six, yes, I said six, touchdown passes.
This was not a half that anyone keeping statistics had any time to look down or grab a drink of water for that matter. Scoring was in the air and on the Raiders first play from scrimmage, Lytton broke free off the left side and rambled 80-yards untouched for a 42-6 Raiders lead.
Part two of this story was starting to appear on the not too distant horizon: the 50-point rule.
As most know, the CIAC has a rule that forbids a team from getting a 50-point lead over their opponent.
Coaches face suspension for the following game if it is determined that they did not try to keep the game under that number.
A couple things started to become obvious at this point.
The Falcon’s and Marchi were not going to stop throwing. They ran the ball on their first attempt and only eight more times the entire game.
This caused two things to happen. It made for a painfully slow first half that ran over 90-minutes. Teams are usually late in the third quarter when 8:30 or so comes around. Terrible for anyone with a deadline.
Secondly, and most importantly, when Dunaj removed his starters and inserted his junior varsity with the score 55-6, the Falcon’s kept their first string in and threw on almost every down.
There is an unwritten rule in most sports about what to do when the score gets out of hand for one team.
You don’t bunt or hit and run with a big lead in baseball or keep the full-court press on in basketball while trying to drain three pointers when up big.
Second units are usually met by second units, keeps the playing field a bit level while getting those players some valuable time on the field.
St Paul needed just two plays though, to score again on the second TD toss by Marchi.
Torrington had to take a knee twice instead of kicking the extra point order to keep the lead under 50.
Now you might say, really? Somebody was worried about only being up 40?
Well, as the second half got underway, it was the Raiders JV versus the Falcon’s varsity and Marchi struck for 21 points in the frame and started the fourth down just 22 points at 61-39. When a Raiders drive stalled early in the fourth deep in their own territory, St Paul had the ball at the Torrington 32 and proceeded to get a first and goal at the one half foot line with nine minutes still left to play.
On second and goal, the Raiders defense came up big and forced a Marchi fumble which Bresson recovered. On a first and 12 from their own 2-yard line, Lytton broke free down the left sideline for a 98-yard touchdown run that salted things away at 67-39.
But still, the Falcons continued to throw. Abbott got into the action on defense with an interception that led to a 24-yard, Lytton to Bresson half back option touchdown.
Bresson would finish the scoring when he picked off Marchi a second time and returned it 40-yards for the final score of the night.
After the game, both coaches, Dunaj and Falcons coach Jude Kelly, remained on the field after the handshakes and had a slightly animated conversation about what had just occurred.
Who was right and who was wrong? I don’t know but I do know that game lasted far two long after it had clearly been decided.
This story will also appear in the Sunday, Republican-American newspaper.