The Trumbull High football team came back from a 29-13 deficit only to fall short, losing a 29-28 decision to the Norwalk High Bears in an FCIAC contest at McDougall Stadium in Trumbull on Friday night.
“Too little too late,” Trumbull head coach Bob Maffei said after his team’s record dipped to 5-3. “We didn’t play a great first half on defense; then shut them out in the second half. We had balls open, but just didn’t execute.”
Down 27-13, the same deficit it faced at halftime, Trumbull was pinned at its six-yard line with 7:05 remaining when Eagle quarterback Johnny McElroy was pressured while passing and the ball landed in no man’s land. After discussion, an intentional grounding the ball penalty was called. The two-point safety was the end result and the Bears had a 16-point lead and the ball.
Trumbull’s defense, led all game by Corey Haslam, Joey Ryan, Joseph Turner, Ryan Kelly, Jake Dudel and Justin Appleby, forced a three-and-out series and the Eagles took over on its 29.
Three plays later, McElroy went up top to Peter Raverta for a 67-yard scoring pass. The two-point conversion pass failed, and the Eagles’ deficit was 29-19 with 3:45 remaining.
Troy Murray, who earlier in the half intercepted a pass to end a Bears’ possession, recovered an onsides kick and Trumbull was back in business at the Norwalk 38.
On third down, McElroy connected with Danny Hoffman for a 38-yard touchdown. Ryan Cranston’s conversion kick was true, and it was 29-26 with 3:28 left on the Eagles’ brand new scoreboard clock.
Norwalk’s Brendan Brown caught the squib kick and went to the ground at the 30. Trumbull’s defense again refused to bend and the Bears kicked the ball back to the Eagles with 3:03 left to play.
From its 39, Trumbull moved to the Norwalk 40 on a screen pass to Markeese Woods and to the 24 on a pass to Hoffmann. On 3rd-and-16 from the 30, McElroy looked for a receiver deep down the right side, but the Bears’ LaVaughn Lewis went up high to intercept the ball on the 10.
With two seconds remaining, and facing a 4th-and-one at its 19, Bears’ quarterback Krishtjan Frrokaj took a snap from under center and outraced defenders through the end zone as the clock wound down.
Norwalk improved to 4-4.
“A winning season is still available to us,” Norwalk head coach Sean Ireland said. “Take New Canaan and Darien out of the mix and this (Trumbull) is one of the top teams (in the FCIAC). The way we played in the first half was like one of the top teams. I can’t remember the last time we came up here (to Trumbull) and did this.”
Trumbull scored first on McElroy’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Raverta three minutes into the game. Turner recovered a Bears’ fumble on the Norwalk 41 to set up the score.
Dakari Eason answered immediately, as the scatback took a pass in the flat and slashed his way for a 93-yard touchdown and a 6-6 tie.
Eason took a handoff following a Trumbull punt and left every defender behind with an impressive 60 yard scoring run. Frrokaj made the PAT for a 13-6 lead at the 6:53 mark of the quarter.
Trumbull responded with a 55-yard drive, behind the blocking of Desmond Washington, Appleby, Dudal, Turner and Haslam, keyed by receptions from Raverta (15) and Hoffmann (26).
Woods went off the left side for a 10-yard touchdown. Cranston’s conversion forged a 13-13 tie with 4:48 left in the stanza.
Norwalk put together scoring drives of 79 yards (Frrokaj 7-yard run) and 75 yards (Frrokaj 1-yard sneak) for the only scoring in the second period. Five punts took care of the offense in the third quarter.