364 rushing yards later, Torrington knocks off Naugatuck by a 14-7 final.
TORRINGTON: This night’s result stems way back to a Friday night in Beacon Falls when the Torrington football team lost, 18-8 to Woodland but showed something pretty special and their head coach saw it and spoke about it.
“If we play like we did tonight,” head coach Gaitan Rodriguez said, “We are going to be a very dangerous team.”
Well, that dangerous team just knocked off undefeated rival Naugatuck (5-1) by a 14-7 final in a game that was nowhere near that close.
The Raiders have been flying under the radar to some extent, just quietly going about their business of running the ball and running the ball and if you like, they’ll run the ball.
On Friday night, on Senior Night no less, the home team racked up 364 yards of total offense without a yard of it coming through the air, led by senior Jacob Coleman with 201 yards on 21 carries.
The two-back option. Here’s what we’re going to do and good luck stopping us.
On Friday night though, more than many a time the Raiders seemed to be able to stop themselves more than the Greyhounds could stop them.
It’s not often that the team that throws a pair of interceptions on back to back series, misses on a long touchdown throw or loses a fumble on a bad snap comes away with the win but time after time this year, these Raiders have shown no give up, no quit.
“We don’t give up our grit,” quarterback Conrad Avallone (15-56) said. “We keep running the ball where the offensive line gives us the holes.”
The Torrington defense held a Greyhound team that had been averaging over 42 points per game to just a second quarter one-yard run by quarterback Jay Mezzo and 226 yards of offense overall.
Nearly every time the Raiders defense was tested, they passed with flying colors to the delight of a big crowd at the Robert H Frost complex.
The home team struck first midway through the first quarter when senior Christian Estefani broke to the outside and made his way down the sidelines for a 56-yard touchdown run.
It also marked a comeback of sorts for Estefani who had found tough sledding over the past few weeks but had put in the effort leading up to this crucial match up.
“Christian worked hard this week in practice,” Rodriguez said. “He ran harder this week and we had worked to clean up some of the blocking in front of him.”
Coleman has simply been a beast all year. His 50-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter was the difference in the game and it was a typical run by the fourth-year player.
Coleman started one way, moved to the outside and after breaking numerous tackles, found himself in the end zone for the go ahead score.
It was a perfect compliment to a stubborn stand by the Raiders defense that gave the offense the ball back at their own five-yard line after the visitors had gone on a 10-play drive to start the second half.
A go-ahead score there and who knows how things may have gone from there?
Naugatuck moved quickly to the Torrington 25-yard line on the opening drive of the second half after a 30-yard pass from Mezzo to David Bien had them knocking on the door.
The Greyhounds converted on a fourth and five from the Raiders 20, driving all the way to the nine before the defense stiffened.
Mezzo missed on a fourth down pass and the Raiders were back on offense, albeit from their deep in their own end.
No worries though, not with this offensive line which needed just five plays to go 95-yards, culminated by the Coleman run.
Estefani had also broken loose for 28-yards as the Torrington line was simply dominating the Greyhounds.
Naugatuck had one final shot with 5:54 to go when they took over at their own 10-yard line after a Sean Clinkscales punt pinned them deep in their own territory.
Forced to go to the air, the Greyhounds drove to the Torrington eight-yard line with 2:01 left in the game but Mezzo’s fourth down attempt hit the turf, giving the Raiders the ball back with 1:42 to play.
Needing a first down to combat the timeouts the visitors had, the Raiders simply did what they did all game, they pounded the ball on the ground with Coleman picking up the first down with runs of five and nine yards.
A third run, this one for 15-yards, iced this one and gave Torrington a win that might shock some but not to those who have watched this team since that September night in Beacon Falls.
Torrington 14, Naugatuck 7
Naugatuck 0 7 0 0 7
Torrington 7 0 7 0 14
(T): Christian Estefani 56 run (Joey White kick)
(N): Jay Mezzo 1 run (Joe Pinho kick)
(T): Jacob Coleman 50 run (White kick)
(N): Aaron Smith 16-71, Syed Ali 3-9, Mezzo 4-22
(T): Conrad Avallone 15-56, Jacob Coleman 21-201, Christian Estefani 7-107
(N): Mezzo 11-20-124
(T): Avallone 0-4-0
(N): Connor Maxwell 2-28, David Bien 2-43, Blake Stone 2-9, Michael Hill 1-5, Joe Pinho 3-22, Kyle Johnson 1-5
Records: Naugatuck 5-1, Torrington 5-2