Big-time W by @PlattPantherFB. They get a rematch with @MaloneyFootball this Sunday, and the Panthers have to like their chances at getting to a Class L championship game. @Platt_Athletics #cthsfb @WFSBnews pic.twitter.com/C0gRtOXw8q
— Elliott Polakoff (@ElliottPolakoff) November 28, 2018
NAUGATUCK – The Naugatuck football team was going to get the ball back, one more chance to tie the score with under a minute left in Tuesday’s CIAC Class L state quarterfinal.
But quarterback John Mezzo never got another pass off. First Jael Rivera got to him for a sack, then Keaton Caffrey sacked Mezzo on the game’s final play and No. 6 seed Platt had secured the 12-6 victory at Naugatuck High.
“One thing we have been doing well this year is we’ve been playing good defense,” Platt coach Jason Bruenn said. “I thought both teams played great defense in the box. I don’t know if there was a run longer than 5 yards. It was an amazing game defensively.”
That defensive performance held withstand a scoreless second half for the Panthers (9-2), who won their first playoff game since 1997 and will face No. 7 Maloney in a rematch of last week’s Stoddard Bowl, won by Platt, at Falcon Field on Sunday in the L semifinals. Game time is 12:30 p.m.
“Getting past that first round is huge,” Bruenn said. “We’ve been here plenty of times before. We’ve played some tremendous teams during that time. We were able to turn it up this time and get the win.”
Said receiver Tremayne Carter: “I’m a junior. Now I can say I did something at Platt.”
As for Naugatuck (9-2), which spent a good portion of the season in the bottom half of the GameTimeCt Top 10 poll during its nine-game winning streak, lost its final two games after getting bounced in the Class LL quarterfinals last season.
— Joe Morelli (@nhrJoeMorelli) November 28, 2018
“The defense played well enough to win,” Naugatuck coach Dave Sollazzo said. “We beat ourselves, that’s the bottom line, two games in a row. We’ve got to be more disciplined.”
The Greyhounds had the only touchdown of the second half. But yes, Sollazzo was partially correct.
Against Ansonia, it was a bunch of errant snaps that helped lead to its demise. In Tuesday’s fourth quarter, consecutive false start penalties and a sack by Nehemiah Vargas ended one drive.
Then a 12-play drive ended in Platt territory after three consecutive pass incompletions by Mezzo (11-of-22 passing, 137 yards). Platt got the ball back with 1:41 left.
Naugatuck spent its last two timeouts and got the ball back with under 50 seconds left, but the two sacks finished off the Greyhounds.
“The were tough. They are a good football team, there is no doubt about that,” Sollazzo said.
“We fumbled the ball, we gave it to them.”
Sollazzo was referring to the only turnover of the game – Jeff Schebell muffed a punt for Naugatuck and Nehemiah Vargas recovered for Platt on the Greyhounds’ 39-yard line with 1:36 left before halftime.
“That’s the difference in the game,” Bruenn said. “Those things, for the first 10 games we played this year, that stuff wouldn’t happen to us. It would be happening the other way we and we would be losing the game.”
It took Platt 10 plays to go 39 yards in those final 96 seconds but it did result in a touchdown – on 4th down and goal from the Naugatuck 2. Platt quarterback Lorenzo Sanson floated a pass to the corner of the end zone. Carter caught it for the 12-0 lead with no time left on the clock.
“We had to get on the board before halftime,” Carter said.
Platt missed both 2-point conversions in the opening half.
Sanson got Platt on the board first when he went 63 yards on a keeper with 4:13 left in the first quarter. Nicholas Airall scored on a 9-yard run for Naugatuck in the third quarter.
PLATT 12, NAUGATUCK 6
PLATT 6 6 0 0 — 12
NAUGATUCK 0 0 6 0 — 6
Platt: Lorenzo Sanson 63 run (run failed)
Platt: Tremayne Carter 3 pass from Sanson (pass failed)
Naugatuck: Nicholas Airall 9 run (kick blocked).
Records: P 9-2; N 9-3.