NAUGATUCK – The Wildcats of Meadow Bridge came into Naugatuck with one of the best running backs in the state. Senior Jake Parker led his squad to a 32-14 victory over Tug Valley on a cool Autumn-like Friday.
The Meadow Bridge senior running back continued his torrid pace as he rushed for 183 yards and three touchdowns against Tug Valley.
Parker went into the game as the state’s leading returning rusher. He started off his senior year in fine fashion last week, rushing for 447 yards and six touchdowns. He still had the energy to record 12 tackles on defense, as the Wildcats knocked off Van 56-20.
The Panthers started out the game with a strong defensive stand as Dwayne Marcum recovered a fumble to stop a Wildcat drive. Meadow Bridge had moved the ball to the Tug Valley one yard line, but quarterback Ryan Church was hit hard and coughed it up.
After a short punt by the Panthers, Meadow Bridge took over on the 40 yard line. Three plays later Parker broke loose for a 17 yard TD run with :44 seconds left in the first quarter. Church hooked up with Kaleb Farr for the 2-point conversion to give the visitors an 8-0 lead.
Starting out the second quarter, there was a slight delay as the lights on the visitor’s side of the field went out. However, after about five minutes, the officials decided to continue to play with the lights that were working.
Early in the second quarter, Church kept the football and raced 70 yards for a score, however it was called back because of a holding penalty. Eventually the Wildcats were forced to punt, and Tug Valley took over with good field position on the 40 yard line. Sophomore fullback Phillip Lucas moved the ball to the 20. Two plays later senior tailback David Runyon scored from 10 yards out to cut the lead to 8-6. The conversion pass was incomplete and MBHS held onto a two point lead.
After the ensuing kickoff, Meadow Bridge took over on its own 39 yard line. On the second play from scrimmage, Church hit Farr over the middle and he raced 63 yards for the TD. Church ran it in for the conversion and the Cats led 16-6 with 6:06 left in the first half.
A personal foul on the Panthers let Meadow Bridge kick the ball deep into TVHS territory. After a 3-and-out, Tug Valley was forced to punt from its own end zone. However the snap was high and the punter pushed the pigskin out of the back of the end zone for a safety with 3:22 left in the half.
The Panthers then had to kick from their own 25 yard line. Meadow Bridge took over from the 45 and had a short field. Parker got the call and moved the ball to the 10 yard line. With 1:40 left in the second quarter, Parker hit - again from 10 yards out. The conversion run was stuffed by the Panther defense, but the home team went into the dressing room at the half trailing 24-6.
Tug Valley took over on its own 40 after the kickoff to start the second half. After moving the ball on 10 plays to the Meadow Bridge 14, the drive stalled. The Wildcats were unable to get the first down, and with 4th and inched, they were forced to punt, but got off a good kick.
But good runs by Lucas and Runyon got the ball deep into the red zone.
The third quarter ended with neither team scoring.
But, with 9:08 left in the final quarter, Tug Valley quarterback Tyler Conley followed his big linemen into the end zone on a 2-yard TD run. Then Conley hit Corbin Oliver for the 2-conversion pass to cut the lead to 24-14.
Tug Valley then tried an on-sides kick, but Meadow Bridge fell on the football to start out in great field position near midfield.
With 6:40 left in the game, Parker broke loose again for a 21-yard TD score. He also scored the 2-point conversion to give his team a 32-14 lead.
“We battled,” Tug Valley head coach Tony Clusky said. “We have some young kids and they made some mistakes. But, we’ll be alright.”
“At times we moved the ball pretty good – but then we would line up in the wrong formation and go backwards,” Clusky added. “We gambled some on defense and it cost us.”
“We will go back to work on Monday and continue to get better,” the longtime coach said. “I thought Phillip (Lucas) ran the ball hard and he got a lot of yards on his own. David (Runyon) did too.”
Runyon had 52 yards on 15 carries and a TD, while Lucas had 89 yards on 12 tries. Conley rushed for 32 yards on 16 carries and a score. Runyon had the other TD. Conley was 5-of-11 passing for 38 yards.
Defensively Conley had 7 tackles, Dwayne Marcum 5 tackles, two tackles for loss and the fumble recovery, while Jonathan Farley had 5 tackles, one tackle for loss.
Meadow Bridge had 286 yards of total offense, while Tug Valley had 206. The Panthers had seven penalties for 50 yards, while the Wildcats had seven for 45 yards.
The Panthers are now 1-1 and will hit the road for the first time this season as they travel to Mt. View on Friday night.
Meadow Bridge improved to 2-0 and will hit the road traveling to Midland Trail this week.
Score by quarters:
Meadow Bridge .. 8 16 0 8 - 32
Tug Valley …. 0 6 0 8 – 14