STAMFORD — For the first time in 24 years, the Wilton football team is going to the state playoffs.
With a 63-20 victory over the Trinity Catholic/Wright Tech co-op squad on Thursday morning Wilton earned the eighth and final spot in the Class L playoffs. Although the CIAC’s official pairings don’t come out until Friday, the Warriors are expected to play a quarterfinal game at top-seeded St. Joseph on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
Wilton’s last appearance in the state playoffs came in 1995, when it lost to Brookfield in the Class M finals.
The Warriors opened a 28-6 lead at the end of the first quarter against Trinity/Wright Tech and were ahead 35-14 at halftime. Wilton then scored the first four touchdowns of the second half to extend its lead to 63-14 before Trinity/Wright Tech (2-8) got the game’s final TD late in the fourth quarter.
Wilton senior Drew Phillips ran for two touchdowns and returned an interception for another. Quarterback Jimmy O’Brien threw three TD passes, including an 80-yarder to Kyle Hyzy.
“It was a great effort by a great group of guys,” said second-year Wilton coach EJ DiNunzio. “A lot of hard work went into this season and it more than showed today.”
Tahjee Morgan accounted for all of Trinity/Wright Tech’s touchdowns, catching two passes from Brandon Louis and one from Matthew Dougherty.
After Wilton scored four times in the first quarter, the outcome looked predictable. Phillips opened the barrage when he intercepted a pass and returned it five yards for a touchdown. On the Warriors’ next possession, Phillips ran 25 yards for a score and Parker Woodring added his second extra point, stretching the lead to 14-0.
When Wilton got the ball back it scored again, with lineman Matt Gulbin getting a hand-off and crashing into the end zone from 1-yard out. O’Brien then threw a screen pass to Hyzy, who used nifty moves and great blocking to race 80 yards for a touchdown and a 28-0 advantage.
Trinity/Wright Tech showed some spark, getting a 79-yard touchdown pass from Louis to Morgan as time expired in the first quarter and then opening the scoring in the second quarter on a 20-yard pass from Louis to Morgan. The Crusaders missed the extra point on the first touchdown but made up for it when Evan Fields caught a pass from Louis for the two-point conversion that cut Wilton’s lead to 28-14.
But Wilton added the final points of the first half on a beautifully thrown and caught touchdown pass, O’Brien to Ryan McDougall, with 13 seconds left in the second period. Woodring’s PAT put the Warriors ahead 35-14 at the break.
The second half was all Wilton. After Phillips ripped off a 39-yard touchdown run at 9:14 of the third quarter, Reilly Sullivan made one of his three interceptions, setting up O’Brien’s 23-yard TD pass to Hyzy for a 49-14 lead.
Back-up quarterback Grant Masterson ran 15 yards for another score with nine minutes left in the game, and Kiel Polito then burst around the right side on his way to a 45-yard jaunt into the end zone.
Trinity/Wright Tech ended the scoring on Matthew Dougherty’s 42-yard pass to Morgan in the final minute.