Raider football posts first win with 21-0 shutout of Kennedy.
TORRINGTON: When Torrington Athletic Director Mike McKenna offered his hand to Raider head football coach Gaitan Rodriguez, both men had a look of relief as much as happiness.
It has been a long haul for both men but the Raider football program hoisted up a digit in the “W” column on Friday night with a 21-0 shutout of Kennedy.
Torrington dug in on offense after a tough first few drives by the visitors and the offense put together enough drives to get into the end zone and remove a very large monkey from the backs of the Raiders and their coaching staff.
“We put things together tonight,” Rodriguez said. “We got a couple nice drives going and executed better.’
It didn’t look so good early when the Eagles chewed up large chunks of yardage on the ground over their first two drives but a defensive stand off a first and goal from the home teams ten yard line proved to be the momentum changer.
A 12-play, 66-yard drive came to a stop on a fourth and goal from the Torrington nine when Kennedy quarterback Larry Lock threw an incomplete pass to give the ball back to the home team.
Another 12-play drive ensued, this one from the Raiders who rode the arm of quarterback Connor Finn (12-19-167) and big completions to Nate Bresson (21 yards) and Desmond Langs (two 23-yard plays)all the way to the Eagles 17.
On fourth and one from the 17, Finn lofted a pass to Nathan Manchester who corralled it in the corner of the end zone for the games first points.
Mr. Automatic, P.J. Kilmartin, blasted the extra point and as the second quarter began, the home team had the lead.
Haven’t been able to say that too often this year and while Kennedy continued to move the ball on the ground, the Raider defense bent but didn’t break.
Torrington led 7-0 at the half.
Long drives were the rule of the day and when the Raiders came out and put together a 14-play, 76-yard drive that culminated in a one-yard run by Tyler Marens (14-70), the lead was double digits for the first time this season.
On the ensuing Kennedy drive, defensive lineman Kobe Covington recovered a fumble by Lock and Torrington had the ball on the Eagles 30-yard line.
Marens would punch it in from four yards out five plays later and it seemed as if a collective sigh had come over the Robert H. Frost complex.
Torrington put up nearly 300-yards of offense to the Eagles 189, only 120 total after the Raiders defense clamped down on the run.
The home team would be posting a number in the column on the left side of their record for the first time this year and from the look on AD and the head coaches faces, it was a good night at Torrington High School.
“We’re happy to have it past us,” Finn said. “We look forward to getting some more wins by the end of the year.”
Finn has matured in his first full year behind center and shows a nice touch with his passes and isn’t afraid to throw it deep if the opportunity presents.
With three games left in the regular season, the Raiders have two winnable games against Sacred Heart and Watertown with a tough one coming up next week against Woodland on the road.
“Hopefully this gives us some momentum going forward,” Rodriguez said. “It’s tough every week but tonight we tackled better and got the job done.”