Logan Kovall's defense, Torrington running game ruin Derby Complex opener, 27-8.
DERBY: The only thing that Torrington sophomore Logan Kovall didn’t do well on Friday night in his teams 27-8 win over Derby had nothing to do with his play on the field.
It was what kept getting him sent off the field by the referees; his pants, specifically that his pant legs, were not covering his knees, not allowing his knee pads to protect him from potential injury.
When he was on the field though, oh boy, Kovall wreaked havoc on the Raiders from the southern part of Route 8 to the tune of three sacks, including a strip sack that was returned for a touchdown by teammate Jacob Coleman in a key spot in the third quarter.
Throw in a knocked down pass and if you were in Derby, as they unveiled a magnificent new facility, you witnessed a tenth grader who had himself one heck of a ball game.
Not that he was alone in his efforts. A week after thinking they should have come out of Beacon Falls with a win over Woodland, Torrington played a complete game in all facets.
The amassed 431 total yards of offense while limited Derby to 148 with 376 yards of Torrington’s offense coming on the ground.
Senior quarterback Conrad Avallone accounted for 173 of those yards on 26 carries as the Raiders offensive line simply wore down Derby.
It’s classic. You may know what’s coming but try and stop us.
Friday marked the opening of the Derby facility, which I’ll be doing a separate story on how it looked like part football facility, part Disney Complex (and I mean that in the absolute best way) and that it was 1804 days earlier that Torrington had re-opened the Robert H Frost Complex.
Their opponent that day were these same Raiders who spoiled Torrington’s party with a 37-7 win on a Saturday afternoon complete with the pomp and circumstance on display on Friday night.
So, it turns out, neither of these programs want the home team to celebrate on their home turf, the way Hollywood might like it!
The night began well for the home team, they took the opening kickoff and drove 63 yards in 11-plays, culminating in a one-yard run by Zerion Montgomery from a yard out. A Montgomery two-point conversion was successful and the Derby Raiders were on top by an 8-0 score.
Torrington would start the next drive at their own 35 and drive to the Derby 15 before a fourth down pass in the end zone fell incomplete.
Montgomery continued his hard running, gaining 16 yards before being injured just as the first quarter ended and he would not return.
On the first play of the second quarter, the Raider defense, led by Kovall, came alive.
On a third and ten from their own 36-yard line, quarterback Bryce Cotter came under heavy pressure and was sacked by Kovall and senior linebacker Logan Bermas, forcing a punt.
The spark had been lit.
After the ensuing Torrington drive stalled, Kovall was at it again, sacking Cotter near midfield, setting up an eventual punt.
Torrington would start their game tying drive with 5:06 left in the half and 83-yards to cover.
A pair of motion penalties delayed a drive that was run completely on the ground and featured one of many big hits by Coleman who while gaining eight yards after one of the motion penalties, leveled the defender attempting to tackle him after an eight-yard gain.
With :12 second left in the quarter and half, Torrington faced a second and goal from the three-yard line with no time out left.
Avallone made sure his team would get on the board with a hard charging score from three yards out on a sweep left that found pay dirt.
Christian Estefani took a similar route to the end zone for the two-point conversion and the game was knotted at eight but the momentum rested clearly with the team from the Northwest Corner.
Torrington took the second half kickoff on a drive that eventually imploded due to penalties. A 50-yard run by Avallone was called back because of a block in the back penalty.
Instead of first and ten from the Derby 14, the Raiders were moved back to the 35 and over the space of the next four plays, a pair of bad snaps gave the ball back to Derby.
It could have been a huge swing in momentum but thanks to Kovall and an alert Coleman, it kept things going Torrington’s way.
On a third and 15 from their own 22, Cotter was hit by Kovall and fumbled. The ball bounced backwards towards the Derby goal line and was picked up by Coleman for the go ahead score.
Avallone added the two-point conversion and the visitors never trailed again.
By this time, the Torrington defense was zeroing in on anything Derby was doing.
Want to try a pass? Beware of Kovall who knocked one back towards Cotter. The defensive line had been exerting their will in the trenches and it was paying off.
Kye Smith and Aiden Traver (who has been playing remarkable football so far this year) combined on another sack of Cotter, setting up one the most electric plays of the night.
Estefani, who was the victim of a couple of high snaps earlier in the game, had been relatively quiet to that point with 31 yards on 10 carries starting the fourth quarter.
Teams are certainly aware of the speed of the senior running back but all it takes is a couple of good blocks and an opening and Estefani can leave folks in the dust.
After gaining eight yards on a run up the middle, the next snap also went to the senior back who cut to the outside left after seeing the middle clogged and took off down the left sideline.
A nifty move at about the 30 lost the last Derby defender and the Raiders were starting to pull away.
To their credit though, Derby didn’t fold up the tent (yeah, this place was far to nice to refer to it as a tent, sorry) and started a drive from their own 35 and moved to the Torrington 31.
THS head coach Gaitan Rodriguez called time out to remind his team that there were still 11-minutes left on the clock.
On the very next play, a Derby bad snap led to a fumble that was scooped up by Traver and returned all the way to the Derby 31.
Joey White would connect from 20-yards out on the field goal try and the score read 27-8.
It was a night to remember for a lot of reasons, a night that Torrington took even better stock of themselves as they prepare for their home opener next Friday when they host Wolcott (1-1).
Torrington 27, Derby 8
Torrington 0 8 8 11 27
Derby 8 0 0 0 8
Derby: Zerion Montgomery 1 run (Montgomery run)
Torrington: Conrad Avallone 3 run (Christian Estefani run)
Torrington: Jacob Coleman 22-yard fumble recovery (Avallone run)
Torrington: Estefani 82 run (Avallone to Coleman)
Torrington: Joey White 20-yard FG
(T): Avallone 26-173, Estefani 11-111, Coleman 8-54 Joey Zepperi 2-17, Dillon Hargrove 1-18 Total: 47-342
(D): Montgomery 6-44, Bryce Cotter 3-12, Jeff Rolis 12-47, Dennis Marroquin 1-4, Antonio Dagraca 4-12, Julian Delarosa 2-26. Totals: 28-101
(T): Avallone 4-7-55. (D) Cotter 4-10-47
(T): Isaiah Hammonds 2-53, Coleman 1-2. (D): Montgomery 1-9, Mike Rijo 2-26, Polis 1-13
Records: Torrington 1-1, Derby 0-2