NAUGATUCK >> The anticipation was almost too much for the two-headed running back tandem of Tajik Bagley and Tyler Bailey to handle.
Host Naugatuck possessed the ball for nearly the entire first quarter. Once the vaunted Ansonia offense took the field, however, the antsy play makers went to work and made up for lost time as the eighth-ranked Chargers rolled to a 41-8 win to clinch the top seed in the upcoming CIAC Class S playoffs.
Naugatuck coach Craig Bruno annually had some of the state’s best passing offenses during his successful run at Bunnell. But knowing that the fewer times the Chargers had the ball, the better the chance Naugatuck had to stay within striking range resulted in the Greyhounds using running back Antoine Sistrunk at quarterback in the wildcat formation.
Naugatuck picked up three first downs during a 14-play, 53-yard drive. After the Greyhounds had the ball for more than 8 minutes, 30 seconds, Bailey and Malcolm Martin combined to stop Sistrunk a yard shy of the first-down mark on fourth down.
“We had to make a stop,” Bailey said, “Coach (Tom) Brockett was yelling at us on the sideline. We had to wake up. We woke up and two plays later we are in the end zone.”
Actually, the Chargers found the end zone four times on their first 16 offensive plays to improve to 71-35-11 in the series.
Bagley had scoring runs of 68, 3 and 28 yards, then Bailey went 86 yards for a score. Bailey actually appeared as if he might be thrown for a five-yard loss on the play, only to reverse the field and scamper for the scintillating touchdown run to put Ansonia up 27-0 with 4:39 left in the first half.
Bryson Cafaro added a 27-yard touchdown pass to Dante D’Ambrosie as the Chargers took a 34-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
“We tried something a little different,” Bruno said. “We were trying to pull out everything. We were able to move the ball a little bit to keep us in there, but they are a difficult team to hold down.
“They are a talented team, they are well coached and prepared and we came up short. We tried to get physical, brought a lot of guys up in the box, but they are a really good team. They have been doing it a long time to a lot of people. We were prepared for them, but you are not ready for that type of speed and ability.”
Even though neither Bailey nor Bagley played after the opening possession of the third quarter, they combined for 274 yards on 14 carries.
“Those two kids go back and forth,” Brockett said. “Both have made real big plays all year, they are great players surrounded by a senior class of great kids, who really stepped up around them.
So far it has made it a really good season for us.”
Ansonia’s seniors improved to 50-2 with as many as three more games left to play. Three more wins would give the seniors a third state title.
“They are a great bunch of kids,” Brockett said. “A lot of those kids are starting for the first time, they get better and have been a real workmanlike group. I have had a lot of fun coaching these guys.”
Bagley ran nine times for 147 yards. Bailey had 137 yards on five carries, 31 yards on a pair of receptions, a 36-yard kickoff return and five tackles to earn game most valuable player honors.
The Chargers (10-0) ran for 344 yards and five touchdowns as Malcolm Martin added four-yard touchdown run on the first possession of the second half. Martin also finished with a game-high 11 tackles.
While Bailey earned the MVP honors, certainly Bagley, Martin or any of the offensive linemen would have been worthy choices. Senior center Mike Caple was at the forefront of Ansonia’s electrifying running attack.
“We came here ready to go and that’s what we did,” Caple said. “This game has been a long time coming. Being here for four years, I know the energy of the game.”
Naugatuck (5-5) got on the board in the fourth quarter as a Devan Biancarelli-Milano set up a Tyler Deitelbaum 8-yard scoring run.
Sistrunk had 111 yards on 29 carries, a two-point conversion run and eight tackles. Deitelbaum ran 17 times for 72 yards.
Ansonia 41, Naugatuck 8
Ansonia 7 27 7 0 0 — 41
Naugatuck 0 0 0 8 0 — 8
A—Tajik Bagley 68 run (Bryson Cafaro kick)
A—Tajik Bagley 3 run (Cafaro kick)
A—Tajik Bagley 28 run (kick failed)
A—Tyler Bailey 86 run (Cafaro kick)
A—Dante D’Ambrosie 27 pass from Bryson Cafaro (Cafaro kick)
A—Malcolm Martin 4 run (Cafaro kick)
N—Tyler Deitelbaum 8 run (Antoine Sistrunk run)
Team records: Naugatuck 5-5; Ansonia 10-0