NAUGATUCK >> Ansonia’s Arkeel Newsome has a career full of memorable performances.
Newsome, the state’s all-time leading rusher, added yet another to his impressive resume, turning in a simply dominating performance against rival Naugatuck.
The senior tailback carried 40 times for 406 yards and seven touchdowns as the Chargers, ranked No. 2 in the Register Top 10 Poll, ran over the Greyhounds 66-28 in this Naugatuck Valley League contest Thursday.
Newsome had to carry most of the load after junior quarterback Jai’Quan McKnight suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter. McKnight returned, but was limited.
The Chargers adjusted, and ran Newsome out of the wildcat formation numerous times.
“We practice it a lot,” Newsome said. “But we never thought we would have to run it. Jai’Quan got hurt, so I had to come in and run it.”
Ansonia (12-0), which has won 40 straight games, leads the overall series with Naugatuck 69-35-11 in a rivalry that dates back to 1900.
“It means a lot,” Newsome said about defeating Naugatuck. “We’ve been waiting for this game all year.”
The Chargers now advance to the Class S state quarterfinals, where they will be the No. 2 seed and host No. 7 Coginchaug on Tuesday. The loss ended the Greyhounds’ playoff bid in Class L.
The yardage, touchdowns and number of carries are all season highs for Newsome, who’s headed to UConn next fall. Newsome has now rushed 239 times for 2,863 yards and 48 touchdowns this season.
Ansonia coach Tom Brockett was pleased with his team’s offensive effort, especially after McKnight’s injury.
“To lose your quarterback and still be able to do what we did — and have a backup plan — hats off to the guys,” Brockett said. “The linemen, we put the game in their hands, and I thought they did a great job, and Arkeel was great.”
The offensive line, consisting of Matt Simon, Antone Mack, Ryan Hovan, Corey Dzienkiewicz and Tyler O’Connell, was physical throughout, allowing Newsome to carve up the Naugatuck defense.
“Basically, to us, he’s like our child,” Mack said about Newsome. “We have to protect him out there. If we don’t get the run game going, other facets of the game don’t open up. We always preach run first and get Arkeel into the open field. We just go out there and block as hard as we can and know that he’ll win the game for us.”
Touchdown runs by Newsome (5 yards) and McKnight (1 yard) put Ansonia up 13-0 after one quarter. Newsome’s 26-yard touchdown run in the second quarter extended the Chargers’ lead to 19-0 before Naugatuck (9-2) got on the scoreboard on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Jason Bradley to Bryan Coney. But Newsome added a 14-yard TD run on the ensuing possession to put Ansonia up 27-8 at halftime.
“They have a really good football team,” Naugatuck coach Craig Bruno said about Ansonia. “We weren’t able to stop Arkeel. You have to be able to stop him if you’re even going to stay with that team. They have a great team; a great organization, class kids. It was a tough day.”
Newsome broke free for a 53-yard touchdown run on the second play of the third quarter. He added touchdown runs of 37, 17 and 12 in the second half. Saiheed Sanders and Tajik Bagley also scored rushing touchdowns for Ansonia.
Naugatuck moved the ball better in the second half, with Bradley tossing his second touchdown pass of the day to Coney and one each to Ryne Griessenhauer and Rick Plasky.
“We moved the ball a little bit, but they’re tough,” Bruno said. “They were physical and strong and they beat us in a lot of areas of the game. I’m proud of my team, we had a good season, but we came up short today.”
Bradley, one of the top quarterbacks in the NVL, completed 9 of 29 passes for 173 yards. Bradley was only intercepted once, by Bagley, but was pressured all game.
“We had a great rush on him,” Brockett said. “The kid Bradley is a great player, he can run all around and he makes a ton of plays. I thought we played real good defense all day.”
Ansonia 66, Naugatuck 28
Ansonia 13-14-26-13 66
Naugatuck 0-8-14-6 28
A-Arkeel Newsome 5 run (Witold Gul kick)
A-Jai’Quan McKnight 1 run (kick failed)
A-Newsome 26 run (run failed)
N-Bryan Coney 38 pass from Jason Bradley (Tom Douty run)
A-Newsome 14 run (Newsome run)
A-Newsome 53 run (pass failed)
N-Ryne Griesenhauer 3 pass from Bradley (kick failed)
A-Newsome 37 run (run failed)
N-Coney 8 pass from Bradley (Douty run)
A-Newsome 17 run (pass failed)
A-Sanders 27 run (Newsome run)
A-Newsome 12 run (Gul kick)
N-Rick Plasky 8 pass from Bradley (pass failed)
A-Tajik Bagley 8 run (kick failed)