BRIDGEPORT -- Seldom -- if ever -- do you see a high school team called for a penalty before a whistle's been blown, but that's what happened to the Central football team as it ran out of the tunnel to face Trumbull Friday night.
It served as a harbinger of what would unfurl over the next 48 minutes at Kennedy Stadium in a wild, back-and-forth game which featured a little bit of everything.
Fittingly, the outcome wasn't decided until Trumbull's Rob Christiani wrapped up Mykel Morris on the would-be game-tying two-point conversion with 22 seconds remaining, preserving a 44-42 come-from-behind Eagles' victory.
"I'm proud of these kids. They battled tonight," an uncharacteristically fired up Trumbull coach Bob Maffei said. "We're 4-4 right now and we're playing, we're getting better and better each week. I tell you what, we can't wait to play New Canaan."
The decisive play was a tough way for Morris, a sophomore, to finish what had otherwise been a sterling performance with 238 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
Both teams were itching to get back to football following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The Eagles were off nearly two weeks until getting in three day of practice, while Central hadn't played since Oct. 20 due to a bye.
Initially Trumbull looked no worse for the wear, scoring on a 19-yard run by Ryan Pearson barely two minutes into the game.
The Hilltoppers, who've run out of the Wing-T formation all season, installed some new plays which the Eagles were unable to slow down.
Morris' first touchdown -- a 1-yard run on the first play of the second quarter -- made it 7-6. On the next Trumbull drive Marcus Moss blocked Tyler Plofkin's punt, setting up Morris' 3-yard score. Morris made it 22-7 at halftime when he busted open a run up the right sideline for a 54-yard touchdown.
"They didn't show any of this stuff on tape," Maffei said. "They were in one formation all year and we had to make an adjustment at halftime."
Whatever Maffei said to his squad worked.
The Eagles pooch-kicked with Pearson to start the third quarter and recovered it in Central territory, setting up a 20-yard Nick Roberts to Daniel Paolino score. The short kick worked so well Trumbull tried it again -- and recovered it again -- scoring with another Roberts to Paolino touchdown pass, this one tying the score at 22-22.
"We had so many kickoff returns go for touchdowns that we had to figure out something," Maffei said. "I watched Central Connecticut, my son's team (Bobby Maffei is an assistant), who pooch kicked, so we tried it."
Roberts, who was wildly ineffective in the first half, looked like a different player in the second half on his way to 314 yards passing and five touchdowns -- all after the break.
"I don't know what was going on in the first half, that was bad," Roberts said.
On 4th-and-17 from the Central 30, Roberts found Mike Williams for a touchdown, putting the Eagles back on top 29-22 late in the third.
Central (1-6) didn't roll over, responding with a Dominique Hancock 5-yard run and Morris two-point conversion to go ahead a point.
"A game like this, Trumbull/Central, what a great rivalry we have. Every year it's back and forth," Cadelina said. "You throw the records out at this point, you're playing for pride and the love of football."
The teams traded touchdowns again before Roberts -- on a fourth down -- found Paolino (147 yards receiving) wide open on the left sideline for a 35-yard score putting the Eagles ahead 44-36 with 3:35 remaining.
Central quarterback Xavier Hardison marched his team down the field, moving 78 yards in three minutes capping the drive with Morris' four-yard score. Down two points Morris cut right, but was wrapped up by Christiani on the point after try.
Central tried an onside kick, but Williams recovered and set up Roberts for a final kneel down to cap the wild affair.
"We stopped (Morris) when we needed to," Maffei said.
TRUMBULL 7 0 22 15--44
CENTRAL 0 22 8 12--42
T--Ryan Pearson 19 run (Pearson kick)
C--Mykel Morris 1 run (pass failed)
C--Morris 3 run (Morris run)
C--Morris 54 run (Andrew Louis run)
T--Daniel Paolino 20 pass Nick Roberts (Mike Williams pass Roberts)
T--Paolino 30 pass Roberts (Pearson kick)
T--Williams 30 pass Roberts (Pearson kick)
C--Dominique Hancock 2 run (Morris run)
T--Paolino 39 catch Roberts (Eric Anderson pass Roberts)
C--Morris 6 run (run failed)
T--Paolino 35 pass Roberts (Pearson kick)
C--Morris 4 run (run failed)
Records: Trumbull 4-4; Central 1-6