Ryan Pearson rushed for 188 yards and three touchdowns and the Trumbull High defense buckled down to negate five Eagle fumbles, as coach Bob Maffei’s squad defeated the Hatters, 28-14, in a key FCIAC West Division clash at Danbury Stadium on Friday night.

“We stopped the run with our pass rush, our linebackers went sideline to sideline, and our DB’s were all over them,” Trumbull d-line stalwart Mike Garrity said.

“Last year, Danbury 50-pointed us. Tonight, we had a choice of going for 6-4 or settling for 2-8. We chose to win.”

Trumbull improved to 3-4, while Danbury dipped to 2-5.

“We finally played some defense tonight,” Maffei said. “That was the best defensive game we’ve played all year.

“I don’t understand [the fumbles]. We haven’t had that problem [all season].”

Pearson opened the scoring with a 15-yard run at the six-minute mark of the opening quarter, but that would be the only Eagle points in the first half.

A poor punt snap gave Danbury the ball at the Trumbull 13 midway through the second quarter, and Akim Moffett ran it in from a yard out three plays later.

Hatter quarterback Anferny Ith ran for the two-point conversion and Danbury took that 8-6 lead into the half.

Trumbull’s John Delfino and Michael Shea centered an o-line that featured Zach Thompson, Tyler Barr, Phil Reardon and Will Polito at their best.

Still, Trumbull’s other first-half possessions ended on four fumbles, one punt, and a wide field goal attempt as time ran out.

Pearson, who played with a flu-bug, avoided the fumbleitis going around and ran for 123 yards on 13 carries in the first two quarters.

Jack Kelly was in on seven first-half tackles and intercepted a Hatter pass on a fourth-and-three play from the Eagle 12-yard line.

Garrity, Andrew Marino, Paul Angelucci, Chris Scott and Ryan Keklik were all in on a fistful of stops.

A pair of big plays toward the end of the third period ended what was a defensive stalemate for the first eight minutes.

Trumbull quarterback Nick Roberts used a great pump fake to freeze a defender, and Mike Williams made an outstanding spinning grab on the Eagle 42 and went the distance to complete the 72-yard touchdown pass.

Quentin Brunetti hit Pearson with the two-point conversion and a 14-8 lead.

Danbury got it right back, after Chris Latham returned the kickoff 70 yards before being hauled down by Marc Cesare.

Two plays later, Elijah Duffy, a strong-armed junior filling in for the injured Ith, found Corey Acosta on a well-run slip screen for a 13-yard touchdown.

Rob Christiani blew up the two-point conversion run, and the game remained tied at 14 with 3:39 left in the third period.

DeRosa, Angelucci and Marino (sack) had tackles for losses to get the ball back for the Eagles.

Tyler Plofkin’s subsequent punt nicked the Hatters’ Acosta and bounced into Dan Paolino’s arms at the 43.

But another fumble after a first-down earning pass reception gave the ball back to Danbury on its 19.

An empty series and a short punt gave the Eagles a short field, and from the 22, Pearson rushed for a touchdown with 6:21 remaining.

Again, the Eagles’ defense, with Thomas Hayduk, Paolino, Liam Moore and DeRosa locking the receivers down, forced a punt.

A third holding penalty of the half on Trumbull, one of which negated a Williams’ touchdown run, delayed the Eagles.

But, Eric Anderson had a pair of clutch catches for 15 and 16 yards to move the chains.

Pearson then scampered 25 yards to cap the 62-yard game-sealing drive.

Brunetti connected with Anderson for the conversion with 2:04 remaining.

DeRosa’s interception on the first play sealed Danbury’s fate.

“”We’ll take this and run with it,” Maffei said. “Bridgeport Central is next and we want to get to 4-4 and go from there.”