Raiders keep playoff hopes alive with 58-26 victory
By John Nestor
Brenden Lytton was back, Juan Toribio showed last week was no fluke and the Torrington High School football team finished up a perfect home slate with a convincing 58-26 victory over Sacred Heart on Saturday Night at Torrington High.
The Raiders (7-2) won their sixth straight game and improved to 5-0 at home this season, winning on senior night thanks to another dominant game on the ground and some improved defense.
With Lytton limited last week to just one play against Kennedy because of an ankle injury, Toribio came in and picked up right where Lytton left off, running for 305 yards and four touchdowns in a comeback victory over Kennedy. On Saturday, with Lytton back at what he said was about 75 to 80 percent, the Raiders had a pair of electrifying options to choose from.
"We played with a little more of a chip on our shoulder," Torrington coach Dan Dunaj said. "They have some explosive players and we were able to keep them in check for most of the night."
With the score tied 6-6 after the first quarter, Torrington got things going in the second and pulled away as the Hearts couldn't stop the Raiders' most explosive players, namely Lytton and Toribio.
Lytton scored on a two-yard plunge and added a run for the two-point conversion to make it 14-6 early in the second. After a bad snap by Sacred Heart on a punt attempt Torrington took over on the 26 and four plays later Lytton broke free on a couple nice cutbacks for a 13-yard TD run and Toribio ran in the conversion to put the Raiders up 22-6 halfway through the quarter.
Lytton racked up 186 yards on 20 carries in the first half alone and looked to be doing ok with the ankle injury.
"The trainer did a good job taping me up and getting me ready and coach kept me out of practice til about the last day to make sure I was healthy," Lytton said. "I couldn't juke as much as I usually do but we came out and did what we had to do."
While Lytton may have had some trouble juking, Toribio was having no such problems and turned in a highlight reel touchdown run late in the second that essentially put this one out of reach.
Taking a toss from the Sacred Heart 16, Toribio ran to the left and was tracked down by defensive lineman Jamoire Gregory for what looked like it would be a minimal gain. Gregory spun Toribio and tossed him to the ground but went down as well and Toribio landed on Gregory's legs and put a hand down to regain his balance, spinning up the sideline for a TD that deflated the Hearts.
A two-point run by Toribio and it was 30-14, which was where it stood at the half. Toribio had 91 yards at the break on only 12 carries.
"Juan is an amazing running back and he brings some great things to the offense," Lytton said. "He has power and speed and brings some great things to the offense."
The third quarter was more of the same as Lytton scored on a 42-yard run to make it 38-14 and the Raiders recovered a fumble by Sacred Heart on the kickoff. Toribio broke free for a 45-yard TD run that was called back for a hold that only delayed the inevitable.
Lytton later capped the drive with a seven yard TD run and the Raiders had a 44-14 lead and had chewed up nearly nine minutes of the third quarter without allowing the Sacred Heart offense on the field.
Toribio put the finishing touches on torrington's huge night on the ground with an 88-yard TD run early in the fourth to make it 51-14. Sacred Heart tacked on a couple touchdowns late to make the score look a little closer, but this was Torrington's night all the way around.
"It feels good to win at home and win on senior night," Lytton said. "We have usually played good at home we just have to shore up things on the road."
The Raiders, whose two losses this season have been away from home, will get a chance to shore things up at Watertown on Thanksgiving morning. Until then they'll keep an eye on the Class L standings, in which they currently sit 12th but a lot can happen down the stretch of the season, especially in Thanksgiving rivalry games.
"All we can do at this point is take care of our game," Dunaj said. "We keep an eye on what's going on around the state. Class L is a very tough class, there's not a lot of room for error and we had a little hiccup early in the season but right now we are playing good football and I'm proud of our kids."