DANBURY — Ludlowe football coach Mitch Ross doesn’t care what the conventional wisdom says. He’s going for it on fourth down. And Friday night at Danbury, it helped earn the Falcons clinch a winning season.
Carlos Moreno scored his second touchdown on a fourth-and-4 at midfield, and a fourth-and-2 conversion near midfield, James Bourque to Dylan Fragomeni on the last drive of the game, preserved Ludlowe’s 27-24 win over the Hatters.
“I thought the fourth-down-and-2 call was a gutsy call,” Danbury coach Augie Tieri said. “They completed it, and that was the game.”
Moreno also converted a third down, dragging the pile inside the 10, to more or less end it.
Ludlowe is 6-3. It needs lots of help but remained mathematically alive in Class LL. Danbury, 5-4, still had a highly unlikely mathematical path, at least as the game ended.
“Hopefully 7-3, we’ve got one more game on Thanksgiving,” Moreno said. “Hopefully (we’ll) have the same record as last year and keep getting better.”
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Moreno’s first touchdown, a 36-yard run coming out of halftime, put the Falcons up 20-10 after an extra point went awry. The Hatters punched back, Artez Taft pulling down a 31-yard touchdown pass from Patrick Rosetti.
Moreno scored again with just under nine minutes left, admitting he wasn’t sure about going for it there on fourth down. But then the Hatters had another answer, Rosetti finishing off a drive with a 3-yard run.
Ludlowe managed big conversions to run out the clock.
“We’ve been getting away with the mistakes. Tonight, we didn’t,” Tieri said. “The mistakes we had in the first half, we can’t come out and play one half of football and think that’s OK, and that’s what happened. We think we can come back in the second half and bail ourselves out.”
James Bourque ran 15 times for 84 yards and a touchdown for Ludlowe. Moreno got 105 yards on six carries.
“The run game was awesome. James and Carlos ran tremendously hard,” Ross said. “They’re very physical runners. We did a phenomenal job between the tackles today.”
Danbury was seeking its first winning season since it went 8-3 in 2014.
Bourque powered the Falcons inside the red zone late in the first half, then punched in from 2 yards out to give the Falcons a 14-10 halftime lead.
The teams traded early touchdowns. Danbury broke on top on Malachi Hopkins’ bolt down the left sideline. But on the popped-up kickoff, Dylan Fragomeni took it all the way back to tie the game.
Diogo Rosa’s 29-yard field goal put the Hatters back on top early in the second quarter.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Ludlowe’s Carlos Moreno scored two big touchdowns in the second half.
Danbury concludes its season the night before Thanksgiving, visiting No. 9 Ridgefield at 6 p.m.. Fairfield Ludlowe hosts crosstown rival Warde on Thanksgiving morning at 10:30.
Danbury sophomore quarterback Jackson Ciccone was among the Hatters who remained out injured. Rosetti, with whom he usually split time, took most of the snaps, though freshman Taj Barnett also saw some time behind center.
“As I keep on telling ou guys, we play the odds. Fourth down, if we’re outside our own 30, we’re going for it. I think we scored two fourth-down touchdowns and made a couple of fourth-down conversions. It works pretty well for us. But you have your heart in your throat sometimes.” — Fairfield Ludlowe coach Mitch Ross