DERBY >> Fans walked into Ryan Field telling stories of the electric atmosphere of Ansonia/Derby gridiron battles of generations ago to their family members.
Route 34 was jam-packed with cars heading to the showdown between the undefeated Valley rivals. Bantering from both fan bases could be heard from the opening kickoff until the final seconds ticked off the clock.
With all the action taking place in this Naugatuck Valley League classic, there was plenty for the sizeable crowd to roar about, especially those who remember the days when the Ansonia/Derby battles were as action-packed as Friday night’s festival of highlight-reel plays.
Arkeel Newsome ran for 314 yards and five touchdowns to lead the top-ranked Chargers to a 62-28 victory and hand Derby its first loss of the season.
“I thought we did pretty well and we overpowered them in the second half,” said Newsome, who passed Tim Washington and moved into second place on the Connecticut career rushing charts.
Derby was only down 20-14 at halftime, aided by the Red Raiders’ ability to slow down the Chargers’ big-play running game and a fumble by Newsome, the state’s all-time leader in touchdowns. Newsome lost the ball as he appeared to be headed for pay dirt.
“We were able to run the ball really successfully in the second half,” Derby coach George French said. “In the end they put up a lot more points than we did and we didn’t execute when we needed to. We came out swinging. That was the thing about this game. They took it to the end the best that they could. We had a good crowd here, you could see both sides roaring. We didn’t come out (with the win) this time, but we are hoping that we see them again (in the Class S playoffs).”
The fired-up Derby defense gave up an early 76-yard touchdown run to Newsome, but did not allow another double-digit run to the Chargers’ star until the third quarter.
With the Derby defense so focused on slowing down Newsome, quarterback Jai’Quan McKnight was able to rip off runs of 76 and 46 yards and let loose with a 67-yard completion.
“This was awesome,” Ansonia coach Tom Brockett said, “I don’t know how they ever let this game go away a couple years ago, it should never have happened. I am glad to have it back and Derby is alive and well. They did a lot of things well. Kreiger is outstanding and they did a nice job.
“The kid (Tyrae) Small was unbelievable, he really laid it on the line. It is a rivalry game and guys on both sides played really hard.”
Small ran for 200 yards and two touchdowns, had 59 yards receiving and a touchdown on a kickoff return. Tyler Dobek led the Red Raiders (4-1) with eight tackles.
Saiheed Sanders had seven tackles while Ryan Hovan had six tackles, including three for a loss, for Ansonia (5-0).
Newsome opened the scoring when he cut right and raced untouched for a 76-yard touchdown on the Chargers’ second offensive play. Derby answered right back as Mike Kreiger capped a 10-play drive with a 5-yard touchdown to Dobek.
McKnight had a 1-yard scoring run, but on the ensuing kickoff, Small spun out of a tackle at the 30, cut to the left and bolted down the sidelines for a 76-yard game-tying touchdown. Newsome’s 5-yard touchdown with 4:11 left in the first half gave the Chargers the 20-14 lead at the break.
McKnight had scoring runs of 46 and 7 yards in the third quarter while Newsome had scoring runs of 48, 14 and 21 yards in the second half. Not to be outdone, Small had scoring runs of 20 and 44 yards in the second half.
Ansonia 62, Derby 28
Ansonia 7 13 22 20 0 — 62
Derby 7 7 0 14 0 — 28
A—Arkeel Newsome 76 run (Witold Gul kick)
D—Tyler Dobek 5 pass from Michael Kreiger (Sal Frosceno kick)
A—Jaiquan McKnight 1 run (Gul kick)
D—Tyrae Small 76 kickoff ret (Frosceno kick)
A—Arkeel Newsome 5 run (kick blocked)
A—Jaiquan McKnight 46 run (run failed)
A—Jaiquan McKnight 7 run (Tom Majchrzak pass from McKnight)
A—Arkeel Newsome 48 run (Tajik Bagley run)
D—Tyrae Small 20 run (Frosceno kick)
A—Arkeel Newsome 14 run (Gul kick)
D—Tyrae Small 44 run (Frosceno kick)
A—Arkeel Newsome 21 run (kick failed)A-Bagley 7 run (Gul kick)
Team records: Derby 4-1; Ansonia 5-0