Pearson carries Eagles (game story)

The Trumbull High football team put everyone in attendance on notice that the Eagles were mentally equipped to take on Darien High at McDougall Stadium on Friday night.

Andrew Marino blocked a punt on Darien’s opening possession, and the senior linebacker scooped up the loose ball and scored from 40 yards out to give coach Bob Maffei’s Eagles (2-3) the lead.

Darien (3-2) tried to take the air out of the balloon with Nick Lombardo’s 70-yard kickoff return to paydirt.

In only 46 seconds, each team had reached the end zone and the score was tied at 7.

It wasn’t long, however, before Trumbull pulled away to post an impressive 39-26 FCIAC win over the Blue Wave.

“We’re getting better and better every week,” Maffei said. “Our linemen played to their capabilities tonight, and [Ryan] Pearson was a huge factor in our win. He made the money yards tonight.”

Pearson carried the ball 30 times for 230 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 37 yards.

Darien was first to have an opportunity to break the 7-7 tie, when it advanced to the Trumbull 14 midway through the opening stanza.

Wave quarterback Henry Baldwin fired a pass towards the end zone, which was intercepted by Trumbull senior Mike Williams, who took off down the sideline for a 95-yard touchdown run.

Pearson kicked his second extra point of the game, taking the score to 14-7 Eagles with 7:02 left in the quarter.

Baldwin handed off to fullback Christian Bognar for a series of short runs on Darien’s next possession, and the Blue Wave got as far as the Eagles’ 10.

Trumbull’s defense, led by linemen Tyler Barr, Mike Garrity and Chris Scott, pushed back Darien all the way to the 27, and its possession ended with an incomplete pass on fourth down.

Williams intercepted another pass early in the second quarter, but Trumbull was forced to punt.

The Eagles’ defense did its job, and the Blue Wave managed only one first down before they too were forced to kick.

The ball nicked a Trumbull player before it was recovered by Darien, turning possession back over to the Blue Wave.

After one carry by Bognar, Trumbull’s Nick DeRosa intercepted a Baldwin pass.

Darien’s defense gave the ball back to its offense, and this time Bognar burst through the middle and took off for a 51-yard touchdown run.

The kick failed, preserving a one-point lead for Trumbull.

The Eagles got the ball back and, behind the blocking of John Delfino, Phil Reardon, Paul Angelucci and Zach Thompson, began a slow march down the field.

Eagle quarterback Nick Roberts handed off to Pearson on a series of carries, capped off by a 29-yard run to the Darien six-yard line.

A holding penalty against the Eagles pushed the action back to the Blue Wave 21, but Roberts linked up with senior Dan Paolino in the corner of the end zone with just 40 seconds to go in the half.

The Eagles, amazingly, were not yet done.

Darien took over at its 36, but Baldwin’s pass was intercepted by Paolino with 34 seconds remaining in the half.

From the 28, Roberts connected with Pearson, who advanced the ball to the six-yard line with just seven seconds left.

An incomplete pass shaved another two off the clock, before Roberts connected with Pearson at the one-yard line.

Trumbull sent the kicking team out for a field goal, but after a timeout with .8 seconds left on the clock, the Eagles opted to go for the touchdown.

“We were all set to kick a field goal, but our line said, ‘Let’s go for it’,” Maffei said after the game. “They were confident we could get the touchdown, so we went for it.”

Pearson ran through the left side for the one-yard touchdown before his conversion kick hit the goalpost, but the damage was done and the first half closed with Trumbull enjoying a 26-13 lead.

The third period was scoreless, although Darien got a drive going in the middle of the period before Trumbull’s defense held the Blue Wave at the Eagles’ 21.

On his next possession, Roberts fired a quick slant pass to junior Tom Hayduk, who took off for a gain of 63 yards before being tripped up at the Darien 15.

Trumbull ultimately went for the field goal on fourth-and-11 from the 16, but the 33-yard attempt was no good, and the score remained at 26-13 a few seconds into the fourth quarter.

Trumbull put together another drive a few minutes later, this one culminating in a touchdown.

Pearson ran for several short carries and a 16-yard rush before taking off for a 20-yard touchdown run. The conversion attempt was no good, taking the score to 32-13 with 6:18 left to play.

Darien answered with a touchdown of its own a few minutes later to narrow Trumbull’s lead to 32-19, but Pearson and the Eagles were right back on the offensive.

Pearson carried the ball three times for 37 yards to bring Trumbull to Darien’s 21, before Roberts handed off again to Pearson, who this time rushed for the 21-yard touchdown with 1:30 left in the game.

The kick was good, taking the score to 38-19.

Darien added a touchdown a few seconds later, but it was too little, too late, and Trumbull walked away with the 38-26 victory.

Roberts completed 13-of-29 passes for 151 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Paolino chipped in with four carries for 50 yards and one touchdown.

The Eagles will begin a three-week road trip with a visit to Westport on Friday to take on second-ranked Staples High at 7 p.m.