Thomas Hayduk's 8-yard touchdown reception with 58 seconds remaining in the corner of the end zone draped by a Fairfield Warde defender was pivotal in leading Trumbull to a 28-21 victory at Tetreau/Davis Field at night on Sept. 20. But the win wasn't secured until the Eagles' defense harassed Mustangs quarterback Brandon Bisack into throwing an errant pass on the game's last play from the Trumbull 15-yard line.
Warde had moved 45 yards on six plays in 37 seconds after the Hayduk catch to set up the decisive play -- and Trumbull's signature moment for its first win of the season.
It wasn't quite a goal-line stand for Trumbull, but it carried that impact. Seconds earlier, the Mustangs were unable to pull off their goal-line stand.
The Eagles improved to 1-1 overall and 1-0 in the conference. Warde fell to 0-2 overall and 0-1 in the FCIAC.
Trumbull wide receiver Quentin Brunetti scored a go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter, erasing a 14-12 Mustangs' lead at halftime, and snared two-point conversion throws on the Eagles' last two scores as well. Warde's TJ Gallagher was on his way to becoming a game-breaker with a pair of 82-yard touchdowns -- the first on a catch-and-run with 1:31 left in the first half and the other on the kickoff following the Brunetti TD reception that had given the Eagles a 20-14 lead.
"We just ran out of time, I guess," Warde coach Duncan DellaVolpe said.
The clock ran out after Bisack's second-down pass that started with 5.7 seconds remaining.
"We had some big kids on crutches, and we had to work the game plan differently,"DellaVolpe said. "We tried to keep them off the field. But their quarterback threw for a lot of yards."
Trumbull quarterback Nick Roberts had three touchdown passes with one interception and completed 21 of 32 passes for 286 yards. Roberts scrambled for a 10-yard gain that brought the ball to the Warde 21-yard line on Trumbull's final drive. He connected with Marc Cesare for an 18-yarder to the 3 on the next play. That pass led to the game's final score after a delay of game penalty moved the ball back to the Mustangs' 8-yard line.
DellaVolpe said each of the three injured players who were unavailable played as starters or as key substitutes on both lines in the season-opener.
"TJ Gallagher is a really quick back," Trumbull coach Bob Maffei said. "We knew we had to contend with him. He busted two long runs and had those TDs, but that was pretty much it for their offense."
Senior lineman Jordan Pabellon's tackle on fourth down at the Trumbull 8 early in the third quarter was a turning point, both coaches agreed. Pabellon stopped Colin Ventura on a fourth-and-five that ended the Mustangs' second-half opening 77-yard drive that wound more than four minutes off the clock. When Trumbull took over, it moved 92 yards on 11 plays in more than five minutes to reclaim the lead on Brunetti's second touchdown reception.
"We did not get the big first downs when we needed to," DellaVolpe said. "When it was third-and-five, we'd get four yards or drop a pass. We'd have one great play, then one average play. That changed the whole game. They came down and scored after that."