TORRINGTON: While the final score may not have been to their liking, the Torrington Raiders football team had a lot to celebrate on Friday night.
They fell to a talented Holy Cross team by a 34-18 final in a game that was closer than the final digits showed.
Playing their first game since Thanksgiving Day in 2019 (a 34-26 win over rival Watertown on November 28) and having along held full practices for two weeks because of Covid-19 issues, the home team put forth a performance they can be proud of in front of a packed house at the Robert H Frost Complex.
Coming into the contest, nobody knew what to expect from either team, both were in uncharted territory after having the year off in 2020.
Sophomores who may have seen some time on that Thursday morning where now seniors; current juniors who were on the team were just freshman and may only have played in a few games.
The Raiders took the opening kickoff after the Crusaders deferred the opening kickoff to the second half and drove 58-yards in 10 plays.
The drive was set up by a recurring theme in game one, the return game, which was superb all night.
Senior Sean Clinkscales took the kick on his own eight and powered his way to the 42, giving his team great starting field position.
Clinkscales would continue his tough running with a 25-yard first play from scrimmage run and convert a third and 10 later in the drive with a 14-yard run.
On a third and goal, senior Tyler Semonich swept around the left side and made a successful dive for the pylon and the Raiders were on the board at 6-0.
The visitors would counter with a nine-play drive and with the extra point, took the lead at 7-6.
Torrington would miss on all three of their two-point conversion tries, something that will need to improve as the season goes on.
Clinkscales would strike again on the ensuing kickoff, returning it 39-yards to the Raiders 44.
This time, a 12-play drive, kept alive on a key third and 15 pass from Semonich to senior Malcolm Francis down the right sideline which went for 23-yards.
On fourth and goal from the six, it was Semonich once again, this time around the right side for the score.
For a while it looked like the last team to have possession would come out on top as Cross scored the next time, they got the ball and with the kick, went up 14-12.
The Crusaders defense stiffened the next Raider possession, but their offense continued to roll with a touchdown with 3:04 to go in the half for a 21-12 lead at the break.
They would extend the lead to 27-12 in the third before Exodus Rosado scored for the home team on an eight-yard run.
Torrington travels to take on rival Naugatuck on Friday night in another early season test.
Lots to work on but lots to like as well in game one.
NOTES: Was great to see football back. The bleachers on both sides were packed and into the game all night.
The Raiders band was bac, as was the Dance team and an energetic Cheer squad.