Rarified air in Torrington as football improves to 6-0 with 37-27 win over Wolcott.
TORRINGTON: It came with hype that included television appearances by the head coach and several players. It came with expectations that come from starting one’s football season undefeated (5-0) and included just about every Connecticut television, print or web based outlet talking about the game.
Yet, through it all, the team getting the majority of the coverage, the Torrington Raiders football squad, kept up their end of the bargain by knocking of a team in Wolcott that is a regular visitor to December football and the playoffs, with an exceptional 37-27 victory to move to 6-0 on the year.
6-0. Those are not numbers we’re using to seeing in the Northwest Corner unless we are talking about Ansonia, the team who comes up to T-Town next Friday.
Each and every week so far this season, the Raiders have risen to the occasion no matter who the competition was but this week, they faced their toughest opponent to date in the Eagles, a team that understands and has had success playing after Thanksgiving on a regular basis.
Wolcott brought a huge line and a talented running back named Nathan Filippone but Torrington countered with a hot quarterback in Connor Finn (17-27-194) and a mindset that would not let them get down, even when they got behind in the third quarter.
“We just believed in each other and didn’t give up,” Finn said, “It was a huge game and win for us.”
Wolcott had just raced down the field after taking the second half kickoff in just four plays to take their first lead of the day and subsequently stopped Torrington on their next possession and seemed to have taken the home crowd out of it while capturing momentum.
Sometimes when a team scores as often as the Raiders do, the defensive effort may be missed but it was just that unit that turned the tide back to the home team on a strange play that looked to be a touchdown on a pick-six at first but was brought back because of a penalty.
Here’s the situation.
Wolcott had started a drive on their own 19 and drove to the Raiders 38 when Eagles quarterback Robert Griffin looked to set up a screen but his pass was tipped and intercepted by Newton Frias, who returned it 62 yards for an apparent touchdown but a holding call on the return brought it back.
None the less, Torrington would drive 43 yards in nine plays with Ignacio Reynoso bulling in from a yard out. A Zak Mancini extra point put the home team back up 22-21 and more importantly, gave the defense a chance to make a stop and a stop the made.
Wolcott would go three and out, leading to a 71-yard, 12 play drive capped off by a Finn two yard push for a bit more cushion.
The Raiders would go for two and get it when Frias went around the left side to put Torrington up by two scores at 30-21.
Can’t score nine on one drive, last time I checked which is the beauty of Torrington now having the option of going for a pair on the conversion or have Mancini kick the extra point.
Torrington jumped out to a 7-0 lead before most of the over 1000 fans had found their seats off a 76-yard option pass from senior Nick Mancini to fellow upperclassmen Nate Bresson who was all alone deep downfield for the opening punch of this heavy weight battle.
Let’s talk about Mancini anyway. The senior wide out/return man had himself another stellar night, first on the perfect strike to Nate Bresson on play one and then scoring himself on a slant route for 24-yards that has become a staple in the Raider’s offense.
Most impressively, every touchdown Friday night by the home team, especially in the case of Mancini, led to a direct hand back to the referee.
Wolcott and Filippino responded with an 11 play 58-yard scoring drive, capped off by a one yard touchdown run by Raymond Iorio to knot things at seven.
You got an early feeling that this one might go down to the last team that had the ball winning but after the two teams scored 14 in four plus minutes of the first quarter, the game settled down.
It was a heavy weight fight that ending with a knockout in the later rounds by the team that met the expectations and wasn’t completely decided until junior Domonick Phengkaen broke out for a 26-yard touchdown run with 2:25 to go in the fourth.
Finn, the senior signal caller, was cool under pressure all game and has used all his weapons very well all season, throwing to seven different targets Friday night.
Another reliable third down option came out tonight in Cam Ceruto who caught two key passes, both for first downs.
Ansonia comes to Torrington next week but for at least a day or two, the Raiders are going to soak this one in before getting back to work again on Monday.
The last time Torrington was at this point in the season without a loss is still being researched.
It might have been close to 50-years ago.
Rarified air indeed.