WILTON — Second-year Wilton football head coach EJ DiNunzio was serious when he said his team was going to throw the ball more this season.
Just how serious became apparent Friday night as the Warriors defeated Fitch, 31-14, in the opener for both teams at Tom Fujitani Field in Wilton.
Quarterback Jimmy O’Brien, who, according to DiNunzio, “throws a good ball and reads defenses well,” did just that. O’Brien displayed pinpoint accuracy while tossing two touchdown passes and running for another. The senior finished the game 19 of 23 for 202 yards.
O’Brien went to work on his team’s first possession, which started at the Wilton 29-yard line. He completed seven straight passes — four to tight end Mike Coffey — on a 10-play drive that ended with Parker Woodring blasting a 37-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead at 6:59 of the opening quarter.
A holding penalty nullified a would-be touchdown on the drive, and an illegal-motion penalty made Woodring’s kick that much more difficult. But the first-year varsity kicker handled the job like a veteran, splitting the uprights.
An interception by cornerback Reilly Sullivan on Fitch’s first possession gave Wilton the ball back at the Falcon 44. Two O’Brien completions and a six-yard run by Jack DiRocco moved the Warriors to the Fitch 23. But a Wilton penalty on a completion to Kris Hyzy negated a first down and the march stalled.
After Fitch picked up a first down the Wilton defense held, giving the Warriors possession at their own 35. A seven-play drive — aided by two pass-interference calls on Fitch — culminated in Jake Sommer’s six-yard touchdown run, and Woodring’s extra point put Wilton ahead 10-0 with 7:45 left in the second quarter.
Despite Wilton’s dominance, Fitch stubbornly stayed in the game. An eight-yard TD pass from Lashier Edwards to Noah Charron (and Evan Burdy’s PAT) trimmed the Falcons’ deficit to 10-7 with six minutes left in the half.
But Wooder Thoby returned the ensuing kickoff 47 yards, setting up O’Brien’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Hyzy with 3:34 left in the second quarter. Drew Phillips’ 14-yard run on fourth down had kept the six-play drive alive.
The Warriors held their 17-7 lead through the third quarter as neither team’s offense could gain traction. But at the end of the quarter, the Warriors gained good field position at the Falcon 45. Eight plays later, O’Brien found Dom Polito for a 15-yard touchdown. The extra point made it 24-7 and Wilton had some breathing room with 10:31 left in the game.
The Warriors added to their lead after a poor punt gave them the ball at the Fitch 32. A beautiful throw and catch from O’Brien to Hyzy put the ball at the Falcon one-yard line. A false-start penalty pushed the ball back to the six-yard line, from where O’Brien scored on a bootleg around the left side.
Trailing 31-7, Fitch got its second touchdown of the night with 4:26 left when James Deichler rumbled in from 20 yards out. Burdy kicked the extra point to end the scoring.