Trumbull adjusts to adversity, rolls past Fairfield Ludlowe
Ludlowe head football coach Matt McCloskey wants his program to someday be on the same level as the Dariens, Ridgefields and Trumbulls of the FCIAC. But for now, McCloskey will have to enjoy glimmers of brilliance.
Trumbull scored on a safety and five first-half touchdowns and cruised to a 35-8 win over the Falcons at Taft Field on Friday.
Ludlowe opened the season with a 38-13 loss to defending FCIAC champion Darien, and followed that with a 41-0 loss to perennial league frontrunner Ridgefield.
"We're still a work in progress," McCloskey said. "We had three tough games in a row, now let's see what the rest of the season brings us."
Ludlowe got off to a great start on defense, making Trumbull go three and out on its first series.
But the Ludlowe offense got off to a rough start.
On its first play from scrimmage, the snap from center Dylan Claiborne went over quarterback Tommy Howell's head for a 12-yard loss. Two plays later, another high Claiborne snap went past Howell, and Howell batted it out of the end zone for a Trumbull safety.
Ryan Pearson returned the ensuing Ludlowe free kick 34 yards to the Falcons 36. Bruising Trumbull fullback Don Cherry then ran the ball for 28 and six yards before scoring the Eagles' first touchdown on a 2-yard run.
Later in the quarter, Cherry took a screen pass from quarterback Nick Roberts, stiff-armed a Ludlowe defender and rambled 68 yards for a touchdown.
After a rain and lightning delay that lasted an hour and 10 minutes, Trumbull kept rolling.
Roberts, a sophomore making his first varsity start in the place of injured senior co-captain Brendan Moore, hit Adam Bissell on 34 and 28 yard touchdown passes and Michael Uus, who came into the game when Trumbull went into its version of the Wildcat offense, ran 69 yards untouched for a touchdown on its first play from the formation.
But Ludlowe came out of the locker room in the second half fired up, and played even with the Trumbull starters in the third quarter. And in the fourth, against Trumbull's second team, the Falcons excelled.
Part of Ludlowe's second-half success may have been a necessary change at quarterback.
Howell did not come out of the locker room with the team to start the second half, and was later seen on crutches with an injured toe on his right foot.
Sophomore backup Matt White came in and moved the Falcons' offense into the red zone twice.
The Falcons were stopped once on the Trumbull one-yard line -- and scored a safety on the next play when linebacker David Harris tackled J.J. Smart in the end zone. On the ensuing drive, with 1:20 left in the game, junior running back Stephen Scholz ran for a six yard touchdown.
White entered the game ready to play, and completed 10 of 12 passes for 92 yards.
"We work (White) in all the time so he knows exactly what he's doing," McCloskey said. "We have to see what's wrong with Tommy and Matt's going to have to take the position. Matt is a phenomenal athlete and he does whatever he's asked."
Howell finished the night with two completions in eight attempts for 10 yards. Howell was also picked off by Smart, who returned it 45 yards to set up a Trumbull touchdown.
Ludlowe hosts winless Harding tomorrow night, but that does not guarantee the first win of the season for the Falcons. Ludlowe lost 12-6 to the Presidents last season, and will have its hands full trying to contain Taquan Broadway.
Saturday against Trinity Catholic, Broadway rushed for 175 yards on 12 carries and had three receptions for 22 yards.