DERBY — Torrington and Derby showed the large crowd at the newly renovated Lou DeFilippo Field a true Naugatuck Valley League way of playing football for two quarters on Friday night.
The tried and true method of running the ball between the tackles to control the ball was working nicely until — well it didn’t.
Torrington linebacker Jacob Coleman picked up a Derby fumble and ran it back 25 yards for the go-ahead touchdown midway through the third period, and coach Gaitan Rodriguez’ Red Raiders pulled away from there to record a 27-8 victory.
“We felt it was going to be that kind of game,” Rodriguez said. “It was going to be big boys up front (battling). We like to grind it out. Jacob made a play on defense for us.”
Battle of Red Raiders goes to Torrington, 27-8, over @DerbyFtball It spoiled the @DerbyRedRaider re-opening of DeFilippo Field at the beautiful brand new Ryan Athletic Complex! Thanks for having @WTNH for our GOTW #cthsfb pic.twitter.com/mdo4AmBctx
— John Pierson (@JPPierson) September 21, 2019
Coleman’s fumble recovery, and quarterback Conrad Avallone’s conversion run, snapped an 8-8 tie at the 7:29 mark of the third quarter.
Damian Caruso had halted a Torrtington drive with a fumble recovery of his own at the Derby 18, only two plays before Coleman’s game changer
“It came down to execution,” Derby head coach George French said. “When they needed a big play, they executed. When we needed a big play…Well, they got that scoop and a score and that can’t happen.”
— Bill Bloxsom (@blox354) September 20, 2019
Derby moved the chains once in a pair of series that ended with punts and took the game into the final quarter.
Pinned at its 10-yard line to begin the fourth period, Avallone twice gave the ball to the mercurial Chris Estefani. The senior first broke off a seven yard run. He followed it up with an 83-yard gallop to the end zone. Estefani finished with 113 yards on 12 carries.
Avallone passed to Logan Kovall for the two-point conversion.
Torrington led 24-8 only 53 seconds into the final frame.
“It’s our style of offense,” Avallone said. “It’s nose down running. It’s my will versus your will. Chris, Jacob (Coleman) and I love our linemen. They know that the three-yard and the four-yards grind will pile up. We move the chains. They are tough guys.”
Torrington’s Aiden Traver grabbed another Derby fumble and fought his way to the Derby 23-yard line to set up Joey White’s score-closing 21-yard field goal with 6:50 left to play.
Derby took the opening kickoff and drove 63 yards in 10 plays to take the lead.
Zerion Montgomery scored on a 1-yard run and he went around end to score the two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead at 7:33 of the first.
Montgomery carried three more times in the opening stanza, before leaving the field with an injury as the first quarter came to an end. A 5-11, 175-pound junior, Montgomery had 42 yards on five carries and had caught a pass for a 10-yard gain before exiting the game.
“We missed Zerion, he adds so much,” French said. “But, credit Torrington. They stayed the course the entire game. They deserved this win. We have to move on and get ready for Woodland.”
Avallone, who ran for 123 yards on 19 carries, scored on 2-yard run with 12 seconds left in the first half, then scored on the 2-point conversion to make it 8-8 at the half.
Torrington opened its season with an 18-8 loss to Woodland.
Derby dropped a 55-20 decision to Watertown to begin its season.