Lytton, Torrington grind out critical win at Naugatuck
NAUGATUCK – It was a sequence that epitomized the craziness that has been the first half of the season for the Torrington football team.
And it was one that saved any hopes the Red Raiders may have down the road for a playoff berth.
Trailing 13-12 to Naugatuck in the second quarter, the Red Raiders’ all-world star in Brenden Lytton intercepted a pass, but fumbled on the return and the Greyhounds brought the loose ball to the Torrington one-yard line.
Somehow, someway, the much maligned Torrington defense stopped the Greyhounds on four consecutive plays, giving its offense a chance to dig out of that precarious hole.
Enter back Lytton.
The senior rushed on seven of the next eight plays, carrying the Red Raiders on his back to the Naugatuck 46.
He then caught a screen pass from Phil Bresson, broke three tackles and went right into the end zone, giving Torrington an 18-13 lead it would not relinquish.
The Red Raiders went on to prevail, 31-27, over the previously-undefeated Greyhounds at Veterans Field to improve to 3-2, and now has a season that is suddenly full of life.
A third loss would all but have ended any hopes of a Class L postseason spot.
“This was very big for us,” Torrington head coach Dan Dunaj said. “I wouldn’t say it was do or die since we have a lot of games left, but obviously winning this game was huge. I’m am very proud of the effort our kids gave.”
Lytton, again, put on a performance for the ages. He carried the ball 39 times for 287 yards to go along with his 46-yard touchdown catch. He finished with four touchdowns total, and, for good measure, he sealed the win with an interception on the Greyhounds’ last ditch drive.
On the season, he has compiled 1,465 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground.
“We just kept pounding and pounding the ball and would never give in,” said Lytton, wearing a white jersey no longer recognizable due to the mud. “Some things didn’t go our way tonight, but we kept our concentration and capitalized on the next opportunites that came our way.”
Both teams traded touchdowns on their first possessions with Jake Yourison running it in for the Greyhounds from 31 yards out, and Lytton notching a two-yard score.
Torrington’s drive was a wild one to say the least, taking 6:29 and consisting of 14 plays and 65 yards. It included two fumbled snaps recovered by the Red Raiders, a Naugatuck sack, a 23-yard pass play from Bresson to Desmond Langs on third-and-13 from the Torrington 46, and a 15-yard connection on a screen pass from Bresson to Joan Toribeo on fourth-and-11 from the 25.
Any momentum from that possession for Torrington went quickly down the drain as Yourison returned the ensuing kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown.
Trailing 13-6, Demetrius Dailey had a tremendous read on a throw from Naugatuck’s Zac Mercer, jumping the slant pattern and picking off Mercer’s pass en route for a 34-yard interception return. Torrington failed on the two-point conversion and still trailed, 13-12.
Lytton’s 46-yard touchdown reception that gave Torrington a 18-13 lead came with 36.2 seconds left in the half. That was not only critical because of the score, but because the Red Raiders would get the ball to start the third quarter.
Lytton came out of the locker room refreshed, carrying the ball on six straight plays, the sixth a 53-yard touchdown run to expand the Torrington advantage to 24-13.
Naugatuck pulled within three at 24-21 on a 14-yard touchdown run from Yourison, but was quickly answered by Lytton, who scampered 19 yards for a touchdown of his own.
This run was arguably his best of the contest as Bresson bobbled the snap and handed it to Lytton with two defenders bearing down. Calmly, with no momentum, Lytton broke those tackles, gained speed and gave the Red Raiders the final points they would need on this night.
This week, he had a simple thing to motivate him.
“We kept (last year’s game) in the back of our minds,” Lytton said of Torrington’s 43-21 loss at home to Naugauck in 2010. “We came out for revenge.”
“Brenden is a special player, simple as that,” added Dunaj. “Nothing he does comes as a surprise to us. We’ve seen it consistently for two years."
Bresson finished with 95 yards passing, with 34 of those going to Langs on three catches.
Yourison finished with 152 yards on 26 carries for the Greyhounds (4-1), scoring all four of their touchdowns.
Torrington will play 3-1 and probable 4-1 Woodland (the Hawks play St. Paul Saturday) next week. In realistic terms, the Red Raiders will need to win out to make the state playoffs.
Friday was a good start.