FAIRFIELD — Through the first five games of the season, Jack McKenna had logged plenty of catches and yards for the Fairfield Warde football team. The end zone, however, had eluded the 6-foot-5 junior.
That changed Friday night against New Milford — twice.
McKenna caught a pair of first-half touchdowns helping the Mustangs snap a three-game losing streak with a 34-21 victory over the Green Wave at Tetreau/Davis Field.
“(McKenna’s) been a very good target for me, my best target throughout the year, so it feels good for him,” said Mustangs quarterback Joey Gulbin, who threw three touchdowns to help Warde improve to 2-4.
The Mustangs opened the scoring midway through the first quarter when Gulbin connected with McKenna on a seam route near midfield. McKenna then out-raced the Green Wave secondary for a 68-yard score.
“We’ve been working real hard in practice and after practice to get our chemistry down,” said McKenna, who caught five passes for 119 yards. “It was great to get that all going tonight.”
— Mike C (@mikecfree) October 26, 2019
Late in the half Warde made it 14-0 with another McKenna touchdown catch — this time in the right corner of the end zone from 19 yards out with 12 seconds left. The Mustangs set up the touchdown when they converted a third-down hook-and-ladder play. McKenna caught the ball for about 10 yards and lateraled it to an on-running Chris Idieu in stride for additional yardage.
“We needed to come out at some point with a win and we did that tonight,” Warde coach Duncan DellaVolpe said. “The kids came to play.”
Warde put it away on its first drive of the second half. This time Gulbin connected with RJ Ihlefeld for a seven-yard touchdown catch over the middle to make it 21-0.
A muffed Mustangs’ punt return recovered by Emilio Mejais gave the Green Wave a glimmer of optimism late in the third. It set up Sergey Holcomb’s 1-yard touchdown run that pulled New Milford to 21-7.
That momentum proved short-lived. A 37-yard catch by Connor Burt set up Idieu’s 13-yard touchdown run that put the Mustangs ahead 27-7.
“We got beat,” Green Wave coach Sean Murray said. “We made some mistakes. We didn’t make plays that were there for us early. Our defense kept us in it. We never reciprocated offensively to keep it close. They started to wear us out in the third.”
The Mustangs added a wrinkle late in the fourth when junior Andrew Conklin threw a 25-yard touchdown to a wide-open Gulbin, for his first varsity touchdown reception. Gulbin logged time at receiver in the first half, too, due to injuries in the Mustangs’ receiving corps.
“Coach liked my athleticism and wanted me to play both to get our offense rolling,” Gulbin said.
New Milford (3-3) added two late scores via touchdown passes from Jack Snowdon to Matthew Hernandez and John Fitzmaurice — the latter set up by an onside kick recovery.
Fitzmaurice caught seven passes for 91 yards.
Next week New Milford hosts Masuk, while Warde travels to play No. 2 St. Joseph.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Joey Gulbin, Fairfield Warde — Senior threw three touchdowns and caught a score late in the fourth quarter .
“He’s a great target to have.” — Gulbin on 6-foot-5 Jack McKenna, who caught two touchdowns vs. New Milford.