Football: Trumbull Eagles fall late to Norwalk Bears

The Trumbull High football team generated 356 yards of offense when coach Marce Petroccio’s Eagles took a 17-14 lead late into the final quarter of its FCIAC game with Norwalk High last at Testa Field last Friday.

Norwalk quarterback Kyle Gorden led the Bears back.

On its winning drive following a Trumbull punt, the Bears went 67 yards on seven plays, taking over with 3:19 showing in the fourth quarter. Jakari Walker ripped off runs of 34 and 16 yards, taking the ball down to the Trumbull 27. From there, Walker gained one; Gordon picked up 8; Walker went for six and a first down on the six. Two plays later, Gordon punched it in.

Trumbull still had one more chance. Nicholas threw two completions, getting a first down on the Norwalk 46. Another catch brought the ball to the 41. But on a crucial second-and-five, the Eagles were called for holding and the game ended on the next play.

"I'd have to look at the film to see what really happened," Petroccio said after the Eagles fell to 2-3. "I know this. We really, really couldn't stop them all night. We made way too many mistakes and that's uncharacteristic for us. We'll have to go back to the drawing board. We did a poor job of tackling. We never set the edge down the field."

Gordon rushed for 132 yards on 25 carries, as Norwalk improved to 3-2.

"With Kyle and Jakari (Walker) in our backfield, we really have a two-edged sword," Bears coach Sean Ireland. "We keep defenses thinking."

Nicholas completed 17-out-of-29 passes for 204 yards and running back Corey Osborne rushed for 110 yards, most of it in the second half.

Norwalk grabbed an early 7-0 lead just nine seconds after the midway point  (7:41) in the first quarter, as Khalil Eason scored from nine yards out on a sweep to his left.

Trumbull pulled even at the 3:38 mark of the quarter when Nicholas went in from a yard out. His 27-yard pass completion to Kyle Atherton (nine receptions, good for 120 yards) brought the ball from the Norwalk 28 to the one.

On the next series, Norwalk ran off six consecutive running plays, netting 36 yards and giving them a first down on the Trumbull 30. From there, Gordon fired a 30-yard strike to Andre Robinson, placing the ball on a near direct line into the speedy receivers' hands. The TD came with 4.5 seconds left in the opening quarter.

After stopping Norwalk and forcing a punt, Trumbull took over on its own 20.

Nicholas immediately found Atherton open. The play gained 30 yards and put the Eagles at midfield. Another completion to Ryan Cranston gave Trumbull a first down at the Norwalk 28. A pass interference call against the Bears brought the ball to the 14.

The drive stalled and Trumbull had to settle for a 29-yard field goal from Cranston. With 7:39 to go in the half, Trumbull trailed, 14-10.

Following a scoreless third quarter, the Eagles put together a 46-yard scoring drive on the last play of the period. They received good field position after a short punt. Osborne carried twice, gained 11 yards and a first down at the Norwalk 35. After an incompletion, Osborne picked up two more.

Gambling on a fourth-and-eight from the 34, Nicholas went to his favorite target, Atherton. Their 20-yard hook-up gave Trumbull a first down at the 14.

After Osborne lost three yards, he then rambled 11 yards behind an offensive line of Ben Duda, Chris Briganti, Coby Levison, Mike McHugh and Justin Schwartz, bringing the ball to the six. Nicholas used his size and strength and that offensive line to plow in from the six. Cranston's kick gave Trumbull a 17-14 lead.

Trumbull's offense moved the ball well again after a Norwalk punt. The Eagles, however, could only reach the Bears' 45 and punted.

After that, Gordon went to work and Norwalk had its winning drive.

"I'd rather be playing," Petroccio said of Trumbull’s upcoming bye week. "It gives me too much to dwell on this loss. Once we work things out, there could be some changes coming. We got to get better. Our kids played hard. It certainly wasn't from a lack of effort."

Ireland considered it a special win.

"He's (Petroccio) has been around for a long time," Ireland said. "Anytime you can beat one of his teams it's significant. We took our lumps the last two weeks. It was nice to bounce back tonight."