TORRINGTON >> Torrington’s football team started with a bang, hung on, then ran away with a 37-27 win over Wolcott in its biggest game in decades, clinching an NVL Iron Division title in the process.
Both teams came in 5-0.
“We’ve been preparing for this since August 15,” coach Gaitan Rodriguez said.
It showed on the first play of the game.
Starting from the Torrington 24-yard line, quarterback Connor Finn took a shotgun snap and threw to Zak Mancini behind the line of scrimmage. Mancini planted and threw downfield to Nate Bresson, with nobody around him for 20 yards.
The play went 76 yards for a touchdown, 7-0 with Mancini’s point after kick.
“Coach said, ‘Let’s make it exciting,” grinned Mancini.
“I was just doing my job,” said Bresson. “Anybody could have caught that pass.”
“We’ve been working on that play for three weeks,” said Rodriguez. “I said, ‘This is the week we do it.’ It gave us the momentum right away.”
Wolcott senior running back Nate Fillipone (17 carries, 130 yards) tried to haul the momentum back for the Eagles. Chewing up 30 yards in three carries, he led Wolcott to the two-yard line in eight plays. Raymond Iorio punched it in for the 7-7 tie with Anthony Mannilo’s kick. “We just stayed in there and competed,” Rodriguez said. Wolcott recovered a Torrington fumble, driving to the Torrington 14. The Raider defense held.
“I’m so proud of my defense this game,” said Rodriguez.
That fed the Torrington offense. Connor Finn (16-for-25, 254 yards) threw passes to Bresson for 25 and 15 yards and another to Mancini for 11. At the Wolcott 25, he was good again, 25 yards for the go-ahead score to Mancini, 15-7 with a Newton Frias run. Torrington’s Domonick Phenkaen intercepted a pass from Eagle quarterback Robert Griffin on the next drive.
But Wolcott wasn’t going away. Stopping the Raiders in four plays, the Eagles were downfield in seven, with a final nine-yard burst from Fillipone. Torrington blocked the kick, 15-13, Raiders. “I said at the half, ‘If we’re going to win this game we have to be able to run the ball,” said Rodriguez.
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Wolcott took to the air, with a 49-yard pass from Griffin to Justin Fernandes. Fillipone was good for another nine-yard score and the lead, 19-15 after Torrington blocked its second consecutive kick. The Raiders gave it up.
With Wolcott driving again, Bresson, who kicked off the Raiders offense, now turned in a signature defensive moment, picking off a Griffin pass.
Torrington turned the interception into another touchdown, with a final one-yard plunge by Ignacio Reynoso, 22-21 with the Mancini kick.
Now Torrington had the bit and the Iron Division championship in its teeth, stopping the Eagles at the end of the third, then driving for a 30-21 edge four minutes into the final period on a one-yard Finn keeper.
The Torrington defense held again. Phengkaen rambled 26 yards for the clincher, 37-21. The Eagles scored once more as time ran out on a 13-yard pass to Steven Urbanski.
The win sets up an even bigger game for Torrington next week against perennial power Ansonia, now 5-0. Torrington last beat the Chargers in 1987. Wolcott hosts St. Paul Catholic.
Torrington 37, Wolcott 27
At Torrington High School Wolcott 7 6 8 6 – 27 Torrington 7 8 7 15 – 37
T – Nate Bresson 76-yard pass from Zak Mancini (Mancini kick)
W – Raymond Iorio 2-yard run (Anthony Menillo kick)
T – Mancini 25-yard pass from Connor Finn (Newton Frias run)
W – Nate Fillipone 9-yard run (kick blocked)
W – Fillipone 9-yard run (Justin Fernandes pass from Robert Griffin)
T – Ignacio Reynoso one-yard run (Mancini kick)
T – Finn one-yard run (Frias run)
T – Dominick Phengkaen 26-yard run (Mancini kick)
W – Steven Urbanski 13-yard pass from Griffin (game over)
Rushing: W – Nate Fillipone 17 carries/130 yards; Raymond Iorio 9/39; Steven Urbanski 2/14; Michael Pastore 1/3; Robert Griffin 2/-11. T – Tyler Marens 9/45; Newton Frias 7/58; Ignacio Reynoso 3/3; Connor Finn 2/6; Domonick Phengkaen 2/38.
Passing: W – Robert Friffin 18 completions/31 attempts/164 yards. T – Connor Finn 16/25/178; Zak Mancini 1/1/76.
Receiving: W – Justin Fernandes 3 receptions/69 yards; Nate Fillipone 3/21; Michael Pastroe 2/15; Steven Urbanski 3/38; Damon Stefko 2/18. T – Nate Bresson 3/111; Zak Mancini 7/94; Jordan Henneberry 2/17; Cam Cerutto 2/20.
Records: Wolcott 5-1; Torrington 6-0.