Ludlowe beats Danbury to ensure winning season
FAIRFIELD — Another game, another heart-pounding win for the Fairfield Ludlowe football team.
The Falcons, who came into this season with three wins combined over their previous three seasons, has now doubled that mark this season and, like it has in four of their six victories, it came down to the wire with Danbury before they emerged with a 44-39 FCIAC win over the Hatters on Thursday night at Taft Field.
On the strength of Colin Wilson’s five touchdown passes, three to Brian Howell, and an interception in the final seconds by Howell, the Falcons made sure they’ll have a winning record in 2018.
“Even though they haven’t had success in the past three seasons, they know how to win because they don’t blame each other when things go bad,” Ludlowe head coach Mitch Ross said. “They kept going and going and played a fantastic clutch game.”
Danbury (4-4) kept matters close thanks to a solid rushing attack, and came back to tie the score twice before taking its first lead since the first quarter on a 24-yard rushing touchdown by Malik Thomas in the fourth. He converted the two-point conversion run to put the Hatters ahead 39-38 with 6:14 remaining.
“They literally fought to the last play and I wouldn’t expect anything less from them,” Danbury’s first-year coach head Augie Tieri said of his players. “We just came up short tonight. Ludlowe played a heck of a game.
“I trust my players and I had a lot of confidence in Malik,” he added.
Following the ensuing kickoff, Ludlowe only needed three plays to take back the lead. Wilson found Howell for a 42-yard touchdown pass with Howell eluding a tackler and scampering down the right sideline for the score. The two-point conversion pass failed, but the Falcons had a six-point edge with 5:12 on the clock.
“This shows how tough our team is,” Wilson said. “We keep grinding out these wins and our defense stepped up in the end.”
As for his connection with Howell, Wilson said, “You give the ball to Brian anywhere on the field and he can score.”
Danbury turned the ball over on downs with 2:48 left, but Ludlowe couldn’t run out the clock and the Hatters forced a turnover on downs with 1:02 remaining.
The Hatters, who had used up all of their time-outs, moved the ball to the Ludlowe 47 and lefty quarterback Malachi Hopkins, who was very effective with the run-pass option, lofted a pass into the end zone in the final 12 seconds. Howell came down with the ball and ran it out of the end zone as time expired.
“That was crazy,” Howell said. “I was hoping he would overthrow him and he did and I was there for it to seal it. This (win) means a lot and we get to play for a playoff spot, which hasn’t happened in 40 years.”
Ludlowe held an 18-14 lead at halftime and failed to convert their first three PATs of the game.
“We knew it was going to be an offensive game and we had no problem moving the ball, we just had problems scoring the two-point conversion,” Ross said. “That didn’t work out well so I’ll take the blame for that. That’s on me.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Colin Wilson, Ludlowe. The senior QB and captain threw five touchdown passes, three in the second half, to help carry the Falcons to a dramatic 44-39 FCIAC victory over Danbury.
Brian Howell, Ludlowe. The senior wideout and safety overcame a leg injury to catch three touchdowns and had the game-clinching interception in the final seconds.
VALIANT IN DEFEAT
Jack Pompea, Danbury. The senior captain led the rushing attack and finished with three touchdowns on the ground for the Hatters.
“Colin has been clutch, he’s been great,” Ross said. “And Brian Howell, what can you say? He’s basically hobbling out there and he was tremendous. Aidan was tremendous, Carlos Moreno and Kevin Quinn on defense (each played well). The kids played a great game.”
“We were a little flat to start the game and we recognized that at halftime,” Wilson said. “We came out and really had to execute in the second half.”
“We’ve got six wins so I’m pretty happy with the team and how we’re doing,” Ludlowe standout Brian Howell said.
FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE 44, DANBURY 39
DANBURY 14 0 10 15 —39
LUDLOWE 12 6 13 13 —44
L—James Bourque 3 run (pass failed)
D—Jack Pompea 14 run (Lucas Amaral kick)
L—Brian Howell 52 pass from Colin Wilson (pass failed)
D—Malachi Hopkins 7 run (Jessica Resendes kick)
L—Aidan Wykoff 71 pass from Wilson (run failed)
D—Amaral 34 FG
L—Wykoff 26 pass from Wilson (kick failed)
D—Pompea 1 run (Amaral kick)
L—Howell 7 run (Victor Cunha kick)
D—Pompea 16 run (Amaral kick)
L—Carlos Moreno 45 pass from Wilson (Cunha kick)
D—Malik Thomas 24 run (Thomas run)
L-Howell 42 pass from Wilson (pass failed)
Records: Fairfield Ludlowe 6-2, Danbury 4-4.