Defense denies Norwalk in 13-10 win

The Trumbull High football team isn’t about to give up on the season just yet.

A banged-up defense proved that against Norwalk High, putting together its best effort of the season to lift the Eagles to a 13-10 victory on Oct. 2, at McDougall Stadium.

Trumbull’s offense sputtered most of the night, gaining just 261 total yards while keeping Norwalk’s hopes alive with two turnovers in the fourth quarter.

But the Eagles didn’t budge defensively, delivering Trumbull its first win of the season by holding the Bears to 202 yards of offense. Trumbull (1-3) forced four turnovers, including two interceptions by junior Stephen Nagy.

Nagy returned his first pickoff 24 yards for a touchdown to give the Eagles a 13-7 lead with 6:21 left in the second quarter and Trumbull never trailed after that.

Glenn Hellthaler also had an interception.

“The defense played well tonight,” Trumbull head coach Bob Maffei said. “The touchdown they scored came after a botched snap so they had a short field to work with. I’m very pleased with how our defense is developing.”

The biggest defensive play came in the final seconds, after the Eagles turned the ball over at the Norwalk 23 as it was going in for the knockout punch.

The turnover gave the Bears a shot to put together a game-winning drive with 1:05 left on the clock.

Norwalk quarterback Jeremy Linton hit receiver Yesid Rodriguez with a quick pass near the left sideline on first down, but the Eagles hit him immediately, forcing a fumble. Trumbull recovered at the 31 and ran the clock down to the final 3.7 seconds.

Norwalk (1-3) had one last chance, but ran out of time after the Eagles stopped Dakari Eason at the end of a 27-yard reception to close the game.

Trumbull won despite injuries to starting linebackers Jack Kelly and Pat Hallstrom. Sophomore Ryan Kelly filled in admirably for his older brother and Joe Ryan took over for Hallstrom. Kris DiCocco also had an active game at linebacker.

Linton completed 6 of 20 passes for 39 yards and three interceptions and gained just 36 yards on seven carries.

“We’re learning our defense, so we’re getting there. We really are,” Maffei said. “It’s something positive we can build on.”

Norwalk, coming off a 43-38 win against Harding the week before, took a 7-0 lead with 3:46 left in the first quarter. A bad snap on a punt gave the Bears a first down at the Trumbull 41. Eric Cohens scored on a 5-yard run seven plays later.

Trumbull came right back to tie it on its next possession, as sophomore quarterback John McElroy hit Nagy on a 51-yard pass to the 6-yard line.

Senior Adam Angelucci ran it in on the next play to make it 7-7 with 2:32 left in the first quarter.

A 45-yard punt by DiCocco pinned the Bears at their own 2-yard line. Two plays later, Nagy stepped in front of a Linton pass on the left sideline, getting a step on the play after Linton double-pumped, and raced untouched into the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown.

Norwalk blocked the extra point, keeping Trumbull’s lead at 13-7. The Bears pulled to within 13-10 with 7:38 left in the third quarter on a 29-yard field goal by Mike Denke.

Trumbull then put the ball into the hands of Angelucci and the senior halfback delivered.

Angelucci rushed for 104 yards on 22 carries, touching the ball 17 times in the fourth quarter. He nearly put the game away on a 34-yard screen pass from McElroy on the third play of the fourth but the officials ruled him down at the one.

McElroy, who completed 8 of 12 passes for 137 yards while rushing for 38 yards on nine carries, fumbled on the way into the end zone and the Bears recovered.

“It’s good to get the first win, but we should have iced it there,” Maffei said. “We’ve got to get that into the end zone. It’s unbelievable. I saw my life flash before my eyes.”

But Angelucci accomplished his assignment, running time off the clock with the Eagles in possession of the lead.

“He’s our heart and soul,” Maffei said. “He runs hard and gives you everything he’s got.”

Trumbull will look to make it two in a row at home against Westhill from Stamford on Friday night.

“We’re getting better every week,” Maffei said. “I saw some positive things tonight, so we just have to keep it rolling.”