McElroy passes Trumbull to win over Wilton

The Trumbull High School football team wasn’t going to have much success running the ball against Wilton on Oct. 24. The Warriors made sure of it, positioning seven defensive players near the line of scrimmage to stop senior running back Adam Angelucci.

Wilton was practically daring sophomore quarterback John McElroy to beat them. And that’s exactly what he did, finishing with the best game of his young career to lead the Eagles to a 35-21 victory under the lights at McDougall Field.

McElroy completed 20-of-28 passes for 350 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Two of McElroy’s scoring strikes came in the final 4:20, as Trumbull shook off a second-half comeback bid by the Warriors (3-4) with a solid finish.

“He’s getting better and better every game,” Trumbull head coach Bob Maffei said. “Wilton is a tough team, but (McElroy) played very well tonight. He definitely has a bright future.”

The Eagles (3-4) managed just 64 yards rushing. Angelucci had 62 of that on 17 carries. But McElroy made up for it with decisive passing, including touchdown throws of 79, 10, 29 and 24 yards.

“In his young career, he probably played his best football game tonight,” Wilton head coach Bruce Cunningham said. “My hat goes off to him. He might have better days than this in the future, hopefully not against us. But he had a great night tonight.”

McElroy actually made the type of mistake that could have tipped the game in Wilton’s favor early in the third quarter.

Trumbull led 14-0 at halftime after scoring on a 79-yard touchdown reception by junior Stephen Nagy on the second play of the second quarter and a 10-yard scoring catch by Angelucci with 6.3 seconds left before the break. Nagy had three catches for 122 yards.

Wilton came out fired up in the third quarter, scoring on the first possession of the second half on a 2-yard dive by fullback T.J. Savvaides.

McElroy locked onto Kelly two plays later on a post pattern, a play the Eagles burned the Warriors on a couple times in the first half. Wilton sophomore Matt D’Elisa recognized it early, made a great break on the ball and intercepted McElroy at the 45.

Senior halfback Pat Ryan carried the ball five straight times to get the Warriors back in the end zone, including a 2-yard run to tie it 14-14 with 4:50 left in the third.

Wilton was chewing up yardage on the ground at that point and it looked like McElroy’s interception had given the Warriors all the momentum they needed to pull off the comeback win.

Like a veteran in a sophomore’s body, McElroy seemed unconcerned by the turnover, leading the Eagles back down the field on the next possession, giving Trumbull a 21-14 lead on a 29-yard scoring pass to senor Niko Principi on fourth down.

“I’ve thrown picks before, so I wasn’t going to let it have a negative effort on me,” McElroy said. “I just wanted my team to know they could have faith in me as a quarterback.”

Wilton tied it again at 21-21 on a 1-yard touchdown run by Savvaides on the next possession as the game turned into a late barnburner. But Trumbull just wouldn’t be stopped, scoring on its final two possessions to put the game away.

Angelucci turned a simple screen pass into a nifty 24-yard touchdown and Kelly finished off a brilliant effort of his own with a 14-yard scoring reception with 1:30 left. Kelly led all players with seven catches for 108 yards while enjoying an active, hard-hitting game on defense.

“I thought we had everything going our way at 14-14 but we just couldn’t get off the field,” Cunningham said.

Wilton quarterback R.J. Romeo threw for 116 yards while Ryan finished with 124 yards on the ground on 20 carries. Savvaides was also effective, churning out 90 yards on 17 tough carries.

Trumbull converted a huge third-and-7 at the Wilton 23 on a brilliantly-called screen pass to Kelly, who scored one play later. Wilton had one last chance with 1:30 left, but another sack by Haslam and an interception by senior Brandon Nguyen sealed the victory.

Trumbull will play at Staples of Westport Friday at 7.