FAIRFIELD -- On Oct. 26, the Fairfield Ludlowe football team was 1-5 and its coach, Matt McCloskey, announced his resignation effective at season's end.
Less than one month later, thanks to some stellar defense, the Falcons sent McCloskey out a winner.
Ludlowe blocked a punt for a score and forced four turnovers as the Falcons beat crosstown rival Fairfield Warde 31-13 on Thursday in front of 2,750 at Tetreau/Davis Field.
"It was a great win," McCloskey said. "The kids played their hearts out."
Ludlowe defensive end Kyle Dammeyer recovered a fumble and had 1½ sacks. Stephen Scholz and Matt White each also ran for scores. White -- thanks to his third-quarter, 52-yard touchdown scamper-- earned the Falcons' MVP honors.
"It's awesome," White said. "I look to get that edge and the receivers make such great blocks."
The Falcons won their final four games after McCloskey announced his resignation, finishing 5-5 -- their best record since finishing 6-4 under McCloskey in 2009.
"The way we ended the year was amazing," White said. "We turned it around."
"Besides fumbling however many times we did and giving up a blocked punt, I thought we played well," Warde head coach Duncan DellaVolpe said. "That's been our season more or less, it's not been through lack of effort or lack of trying, it's just something I can't explain."
The Mustangs dominated time of possession and yards in the first half, but a pair of key defensive plays put the Falcons ahead. Ludlowe junior Jimmy Gasper blocked a first-quarter punt, then recovered the ball amid a wild scramble in the end zone, putting the Falcons up 7-0.
"Coach always says `let's block that punt this week,'" Gasper said. "That's what we did, we got it and we had four or five Falcons around the ball."
After the teams traded fumbles, the Mustangs moved the ball to Ludlowe's 4-yard line. But Warde sophomore quarterback Brandon Bisack tripped over his center's foot, leading to a fumble.
Ludlowe defensive lineman Benjamin Brzoski scooped up the ball and went 92 yards for Ludlowe's second defensive score, making it 14-0.
"The defense played out of their minds when the offense wasn't generating too much," White said. "It was huge."
Two of Warde's turnovers came inside Ludlowe's red zone, including a similar fumble in the fourth-quarter. Dammeyer recovered the fumble, as Warde drove to the Ludlowe 14-yard-line, attempting to tie the score.
"Their nose guard did a great job of penetrating on the snap," DellaVolpe said. "We should've stopped being under the center. That's my fault."
The Falcons took the ball off that turnover and went 75 yards in 14 plays, draining nearly seven minutes off the clock. Scholz's 13-yard touchdown run capped the march, putting the Falcons up 28-13.
"That's the way our offense runs," McCloskey said. "When you're up and you have an offensive line that can push and your running backs can run ... why wouldn't you?"
FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE 7 7 7 10-- 31
FAIRFIELD WARDE 0 7 6 0-- 13
FL-- Jimmy Gasper punt block recovery in end zone (Victor D'Ascenzo kick)
FL-- Benjamin Brzosi 92 fumble return (D'Ascenzo kick)
FW-- Max Garrett 11 run (Conor McGuinness kick)
FL-- Matt White 52 run (D'Ascenzo kick)
FW-- TJ Gallagher 2 run (kick failed)
FL-- Stephen Scholz 13 run (D'Ascenzo kick)
FL-- D'Ascenzo 32 FG.
Records: Ludlowe 5-5; Warde 1-9.