Milano rallies New Canaan from win over Warde
Duncan DellaVolpe may know the New Canaan High School football team's offense as well as any coach in the state.
DellaVolpe was the team's offensive coordinator for a decade, and for more than three quarters Friday night, it looked like he might use that knowledge to pull off the biggest win in his three seasons at Fairfield Warde.
But Matt Milano, the Rams' veteran quarterback, threw for a touchdown and, perhaps more surprisingly, ran for two more, rallying his team from a 14-7 deficit in the final 10 minutes to a 28-14 win.
"In the first half it was ugly," Milano said. "I might have been a little flustered I guess. I wasn't putting the ball in the right place. Everything was there and sooner or later we were going to hit it. We were able to pull out a win and that's all that matters."
Milano was pressured more than usual, and when he did have time to pass seemed to have trouble finding open receivers early. Through it all, Milano kept his composure and led the Rams on a taut six-play, 71-yard drive, hitting Patrick Newton on a 23-yard pass and then on a spectacular 29-yard scoring strike, with the senior receiver making an over-the-shoulder catch.
On a night when nothing came easy, kicker Collin Shapiro was wide on the extra point and Warde maintained a 14-13 lead.
After the Mustangs went three-and-out, Milano hit Connor Kilbane for 16 yards on a third-and-10, ran for 35 yards on the ensuing play, then scored on a 3-yard keeper. Milano's conversion pass to Ted Bossidy made the score 21-14.
After an interception by Bobby Distler two plays later, Milano scored on a 1-yard sneak with 4:46 left to secure the win.
"He's an All-State quarterback and he didn't make that for nothing," New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said. "A lot of suggestions and plays he made on the sideline.
He told us what he saw.
He never lost his poise."
It was the second straight disheartening loss for the Mustangs, who gave up 26 unanswered second-half points last week against Darien in a 29-19 loss.
Warde might be the most improved team in the FCIAC, but right now has to settle for respect instead of victories.
"I'm more proud of these kids than ever, of any team I've coach and any other game I've coached," DellaVolpe said. "We played them straight up. It was nothing special. The defense played a great game."
New Canaan scored on its first drive, with Louis Hagopian's 20-yard touchdown run providing a 7-0 lead.
But the next time the Rams had the ball, Ryan Jacob jumped an outside route, picked off Milano's pass and returned it 31 yards for a game-tying touchdown.
Both defenses dominated for the next two quarters, before a 58-yard run by the Mustangs' Devon Lofton set up the go-ahead touchdown.
"They did a tremendous job and Duncan does a great job," Marinelli said. "A couple of more mistakes by us and they go out of here winners. It was really good to see our defense improve this week. With the game on the line our offense came through as well."