Raiders Finish Season Strong with 35-21 Whipping of Watertown. Story by John Torsiello.
The sun was shining brightly on Torrington head football coach Dan Dunaj’s face after his team had manhandled Watertown Thursday, 35-21, in the two team’s annual Turkey Day classic at the Robert H. Frost Sports Complex at THS.
“The turkey always tastes better after a win,” the mentor smiled, with his club’s coaches and players celebrating around him after their sixth win of the season against four losses. It was the third straight winning campaign for the Raiders. But there was also a bit of “what-iffing” surrounding the Raiders’ final game of the 2012 season.
Torrington finished the year with four consecutive wins, 52-44 over Derby, 67-36 over Kennedy, 65-21 over Sacred Heart, and Thursday’s victory. Also included in the six wins was a 59-33 drubbing of St. Paul Catholic and a 24-21 victory over Holy Cross. The what-iffiing centered around blowing a lead to Wolcott in a five-point loss and what-if the Raiders hadn’t stumbled and lost their way a bit in mid-season during which lopsided losses to both Naugatuck and Woodland occurred. A very good season could have turned into a great one. And the Raiders, with a few bounces going their way and some better play in mid-October, would be headed for the state playoffs.
But what-iffing gets you nowhere, or at least it gets you no more wins, and the Raiders were certainly pleased to enjoy another victorious year and hand Watertown its eighth loss of the year against two wins.
“It was payback for last year,” said Torrington senior running back Joan Toribio, who finished off his high school career in grand fashion. The 5-5, 150-pound back rushed for 143 yards and scored on runs of seven, 62 and five yards. “We needed that helmet back,” Toribio added, referring to the helmet trophy awarded to the winner of the Thanksgiving Day contest. “I got some great blocking from my line today and it’s great to go out a winner.”
Torrington effectively shut down Watertown’s potent running game and had control of the contest from the outset. The Raiders led 14-0 after the first period, 21-0, late in the second half, and 35-13 before the Indians scored and threw a two-point conversion pass with just three minutes remaining in the game to make the score look somewhat closer.
“They are big and physical and we wanted to stop the run today, which we did, except for a long run they had late in the game,” said Dunaj. “It was nice to finish strong like we did but our schedule was front-loaded and we knew that at the start. There were some things that happened this year that we bounced back from as a team. We played very well over the last four games of the season and I’m happy with that.”
The Raiders’ offense was explosive this season thanks to its ability to both run and pass the ball effectively. Senior quarterback Phil Bresson, a lefty, opened up the game by hitting Nick Lorenzo on a 27-yard scoring strike with only eight minutes gone in the contest, and then Edgar Gonzalez on a 16-yard pay dirt pass sandwiched around a seven-yard touchdown run by Toribio. Toribio’s run was set up by a nifty 53-yard throw from Bresson to junior Desmond Langs.
Watertown finally got on the board when, after the Indians recovered a muffed punt by Torrington at midfield, senior signal caller Andrew Biello hit senior Jon Mitchell on a 30-yard touchdown pass with two minutes to go in the half.
Torrington ran right out and struck like lightening after intermission when Toribio scampered down the right sideline on a 62-yard touchdown run less than a minute into the second half.
“We came out of halftime knowing that we had to stop them and get some momentum going,” said Watertown head coach Mike Veronneau. “That didn’t happen and the quick score hurt us.”
Watertown cut the deficit to 28-13 when Biello hooked up with the tall and speedy Jon Mitchell on a 52-yard touchdown pass with 9:20 remaining in the third period.
Torrington’s defense, led by junior Ernie Tracy, who had an outstanding game, Brad Brown, Matt Hoxie, Dan Shebell, Anthony Marinelli and Bresson, shut the Indians’ running game almost completely down. Take away senior Paulo Villanueva’s 30-yard run late in the game and the Indians rushed for only 31 yards. What offense Watertown did muster came on the arm of Biello, who completed 7-of-15 passes for 111 yards and three touchdowns. He was picked off once, by Langs, early in the game. Langs intercepted the pass one yard inside the THS end zone and returned it 101 yards but a penalty negated the score.
A three-yard touchdown run by Toribio made is 35-13 less than a minute into the final period and the Raiders basically ran out the clock, with the visitors making the score more respectable when Biello threw his third touchdown pass of the game, this time a seven-yard strike to senior captain Seth McFadden.
The Raiders rushed for over 200 yards, with Dunaj going to junior Devone Thomas in the second half and the tailback responding by picking up 69 yards on 13 carries. Bresson was 6-of-13 passing for 147 yards and the two touchdowns.
Watertown 0 7 6 8 21
Torrington 14 7 7 7 35
T-Nick Lorenzo 27 pass from Phil Bresson (P.J. Kilmartin kick)
T-Joan Toribio 7 run (Kilmartin kick)
T-Edgar Gonzalez 16 pass from Bresson (Kilmartin kick)
W-John Mitchell 30 pass from Andrew Biello (Dan Desaulniers kick)
T-Toribio 62 run (Kilmartin kick)
W-Mitchell 53 pass from Biello (kick missed)
T-Toribio 5 run (Kilmartin kick)
W-Seth McFadden 7 pass from Biello (Paulo Villanueva run )
Rushing: T-Joan Toribio 21-143; Devone Thomas 13-69. W-Paul Villanueva 6-35; Rocco Guerrera 6-11.
Passing: T-Phil Bresson 6-13-147-1; W-Andrew Biello 7-15-111-1.
Receiving: T-Desmond Langs, 2-68, Edgar Gonzalez 2-41. W-Jon Mitchell 3-84.
Records: T-6-4; W-2-8.