DERBY — There was no quit in the undermanned home team, so Seymour had to find a way to put the game away.
A couple of big defensive plays in the fourth quarter got the Wildcats the ball back, and a long touchdown drive put the game away Friday night in Seymour’s 14-0 NVL football win at DeFilippo Field.
“Usually it’s our offense making the big play, but tonight, it was our defense,” said Curtis Dion, who ran 25 times for 139 yards to pace the Wildcats’ offense.
Kevin Harmeling ran for a 47-yard touchdown on Seymour’s second possession, but it wasn’t until its last possession that anyone scored again, a 22-yard Harmeling pass to Louie Cortello on third-and-14 with 2:46 to go.
Seymour is 5-2 and kept Class S playoff hopes in play, hopes that might be a little brighter if their last three opponents weren’t Naugatuck, Ansonia and Woodland, all of whom came into Friday unbeaten. Then again, Naugatuck went down Friday night to Torrington, 14-7.
“They’re three really good football teams, and I expect they’re going to play us really well. We’ve got to be ready to come out and compete,” Seymour coach Mike Kearns said. “Right now we’re going to focus on Naugatuck.”
Derby fell to 1-6 but was one potential play away for 45 minutes Friday. That might be even more remarkable considering that the Red Raiders dressed only 19 players.
Among the most recent additions to the injured list was quarterback Bryce Cotter, who was hurt last week at Ansonia.
“We fought hard. We fought hard,” Derby coach George French said. “They had a good play they called for the touchdown at the end. We knew it was coming, we actually said it, and they caught us. They made a play.
“We had to stop them, I don’t know, three or four times in the red zone. We had a great effort. I couldn’t ask for anything else. They played hard to the end. These are building blocks for the future.”
Derby picked off Seymour passes twice in the second quarter, the second of them in the end zone. The Raiders forced the Wildcats to turn the ball over on downs twice in the third quarter inside the 20.
And then early in the fourth, down 7-0, Derby had a chance. Julian Delarosa’s 12-yard run got the Raiders to the Seymour 28. But on third-and-12 from the 30, Seymour’s Zack Bruder got pressure on Derby quarterback Jake Cook to force an incompletion, and then Jimmy Coughlin stopped Delarosa on fourth down.
The Wildcats marched 73 yards on 12 plays and took over six minutes off the clock to put it away.
“We hung in to finish the game, but we shot ourselves in the foot,” Kearns said. “We had some bad snaps. We had a couple of interceptions. We didn’t play great offensively. Luckily our defense kept us in the game, and we were able to pull it out in the fourth quarter.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Seymour’s Curtis Dion ran 25 times, chewing up time and field (139 yards).
Injuries have continued to pile up on Derby, whose pregame full-team huddle looked more like one setting up for third-and-4 from its 15.
“These kids, they’re working hard,” French said. “They’re pushing themselves. They’re not giving up. They’ve got a lot of fight. They’re coming together.”
RUN FOR IT
Seymour netted 174 rushing yards, though three snaps that missed connection cost the Wildcats 41 yards.
Dion credited the offensive line. “Our line was at the bottom, a little bit, at the beginning of the season, and now it’s up here,” he said, holding a hand above eye level. “That’s what we need.”
— Michael Fornabaio (@fornabaioctp) November 2, 2019
Kearns said the Wildcats ran well in last week’s 29-18 win over Oxford and was happy with Friday’s running game, too.
“We’ve got really good linemen who are playing pretty well, improving as a unit,” Kearns said. “The running backs, Coughlin and Dion, have been running hard. Harmeling’s running really hard as a quarterback. It’s where it needs to be right now.”
“We didn’t have a great game last week, but (the defense) came back. They executed, went through their reads. They played good, sound football. They made tackles. Not a lot of missed tackles, which changed the game, in essence.” —Seymour coach Mike Kearns, on his defense.