NAUGATUCK – The Tug Valley Panthers had a happy homecoming game as they defeated the Van Bulldogs 40 to 20 Friday night at Bob Brewer Field.
Tug Valley took the opening kickoff and marched downfield with an 11-play, 53 yard drive. It was capped by a David Runyon 1-yard plunge. The conversion failed, but the Panthers took an early lead they would never relinquish.
Later in the quarter Austin Baisden came up with an interception for Tug Valley halting a Bulldog drive. However, the Panthers were unable to move the ball and were forced to punt.
But, on the next offensive possession by Van, Tug Valley’s Isaac Parsley recovered a fumble on the 38 yard line giving the home team excellent field position. Then four plays later Panther quarterback Mikey Newsome hit Corey Dillon for a 25-yard TD pass. The conversion pass failed, but Tug Valley led 12-0 with 11:33 left in the first half.
Van cut into the lead as freshman Logan Crouse broke free and hit pay-dirt on a 50 yard touchdown run. The conversion run was no good, but the Bulldogs had new life, cutting the score to 12-6 with 10:19 left in the second quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Tug Valley’s Ryan Preece scooped up the pigskin, hit a seam and raced 65 yards for a TD. Tyler Conley ran in for the 2-point conversion and the home team increased its lead to 20-6.
With 6:56 left in the half, Conley scored from 12 yards out. The conversion run was stopped, but Tug Valley had a 26-6 lead.
On Van’s next offensive possession, Aaron Copley picked off another Elswick pass with 6:32 left in the second quarter. However, three plays later Van recovered a Tug Valley fumble. The Bulldogs were unable to score and went into the dressing room trailing 26-6.
Tug Valley came up with another turnover as Ryan Preece made a big hit on a Van player and Conley recovered the fumble for the Panthers.
Then an unsportsmanlike penalty gave Tug Valley great field position at the 27 yard line of Van. Four plays later Justin Baisden scored from 12 yards out with 9:33 left in the third quarter. Newsome connected with Dillon on the 2-point conversion to give Tug Valley a comfortable 34-6 lead. That’s how the score ended after three quarters of play.
At that point, Tug Valley coach Tony Clusky pulled many of his starters. Senior running back Aaron Muncy did not play at all in the second half. He was nursing an ankle injury. He did see limited action in the first half.
Van was able to get two more scores in the final quarter. Crouse scored his second TD on a 22 yard pass from Elswick. The conversion failed, but that cut the score to 34-12.
With 5:46 left in the game, the speedy Crouse scored his third TD of the night on a 24 yard run. Then Dakota Price hit Elswick on a halfback pass for the 2-point conversion to cut the lead to 36-20.
Tug Valley then was able to recover an on-sides kick. With good field position the Panthers quickly moved the football down the field and Baisden scored for the second time on a 7-yard run. The conversion was stopped, but the Panther were able to improve to 6-2 on the season.
Runyon led Tug Valley with 93 yards rushing on 13 carries, while Baisden had 78 on 18 chances. Conley rushed for 47 yards on 10 tries and completed 1-of-3 passes for 18 yards, but he threw two interceptions.
Newsome completed 3-7 passes for 71 yards and a TD. He threw a couple of nice passes early in the game that were dropped.
Dillon led Tug Valley in receiving catching two passes for 58 yards and a score.
Defensively Preece led the Panthers with nine tackles, while Parsley had seven and Conley five. Dillon had a pair of sacks and Jonathan Farley also had a QB sack. Copley, Austin Baisden and Runyon each had an interception.
Tug Valley will be idle this week. Van is now 1-7 and will play host to Greenbrier West this Friday.
Score by quarters:
VHS … 0 6 0 14 - 20
TVHS … 6 20 8 6 - 40