Turnovers doom Raiders in Helmet Game against Watertown. They fall, 42-20.
TORRINGTON: While it is the season for giving, the Torrington football team may have taken it to the extreme in their annual battle with Watertown on Wednesday night.
The Raiders turned the ball over six different times and for the first time since 2011, “The Helmet” is heading back down Route 8 after the Indians took advantage of the Torrington generosity in a 42-20 win.
Watertown was simply the better team on Wednesday night. Sometimes it works out that way.
The Indians had come in with a 3-6 record, marked by games they let slip away this season but from after scoring on a nine-yard fumble recovery on the Raiders first play from scrimmage, the visitors forced the home team (4-6) to play catch up the rest of the way.
Watertown took advantage of every gift the Raiders gave, turning turnovers into points, something they had not done throughout their inconsistent campaign, especially after giving the points right back on the ensuing kickoff when Raider sophomore Richard Patai went 79-yards for the game tying score.
“I’m thinking at that point that are we going to be mentally tough enough to get through this,” Luigi Velardi said. “I my three years here, that’s what it has been. We sometimes go up and up throughout a game but don’t finish. The biggest thing I think is getting them to finish for four quarters.”
Watertown responded on their next possession with a 15-play, 66-yard drive culminated by a 2-yard touchdown run by Joe Deptula who carried most of the Raiders defensive line into the end zone with a strong second effort.
The Raiders first four touches on offense looked like this. A fumble that was recovered for a touchdown, a kick-off return for a touchdown (by Patai for Torrington), another fumble (by Torrington) that was eventually turned into another Deptula score and a 65-yard touchdown run by Domonick Phengkaen.
By shear will and talent, the Raiders almost recovered from each mistake but they just kept coming, even after Torrington tied the score on a two-yard run by Phengkaen at the end of the first half.
A fumble on the opening drive of the third quarter didn’t hurt the Raiders but a punt that hit off a Torrington player and recovered by Watertown was when junior quarterback Nick D’elia went in from four yards out.
The Indians stunningly recovered the ensuing short kick that was touched by three different Raiders before Watertown eventually recovered and scored on a one-yard run by D’elia at the start of the fourth quarter.
“It was tough turning the ball over our first two possessions,” Raider head coach Gaitan Rodriguez said. “We dug ourselves a hole and whenever I thought the momentum swing would come our way, we turned it right back to them.”
Torrington began this season with just three players who started on either the offensive or defensive side of the ball and took their lumps early and before Wednesday, had played better in the second half of the season.
“From where we were the beginning of the year until where we are now,” Rodriguez said. “I’m very proud of where we are right now. We’re not satisfied and we are going to keep working hard. We’ve got a whole off season to start doing that and get ready to come back strong next year.”