STRATFORD — A 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by Bunnell’s Tyreek Smith with 2:26 left in the first quarter was no small reminder for the Wilton football team. Instead, it tore off the newly formed scab of an ugly recollection attached to the Warriors’ 21-0 loss at Ridgefield the week before.
In that game, an interception at the Ridgefield 5-yard line late in the second quarter not only thwarted a Warrior drive but also signaled the onset of a particularly painful loss. So when Smith’s spectacular pick-six vaulted Bunnell to a 6-3 lead Friday night, the Wilton faithful was left with a bad case of “we’ve seen this before.”
Those fears didn’t last very long, however.
Wilton responded with 42 unanswered points, rolling to a 45-14 victory over the host Bulldogs and raising its record to 4-2.
The Warriors drew first blood on Parker Woodring’s 22-yard field goal at 6:47 of the opening quarter. Wilton’s defense had stuffed Bunnell with a three-and-out, and the offense was clicking. On their next possession, the Warriors were threatening to add more points before Smith intercepted a pass and ran the length of the field for a touchdown.
Wilton’s regroup began on Bunnell’s extra-point attempt, which Dom Polito blocked to leave the Bulldogs ahead 6-3. From there, six Warrior touchdowns and six extra points bombarded the scoreboard, putting Wilton ahead 45-6.
The onslaught started immediately, as Wooder Thoby fielded the ensuing kickoff and, after a pair of sharp cuts, took the ball 70 yards for a touchdown. Woodring’s extra point was good and Wilton jumped back into the lead at 10-6.
Kyle Hyzy’s interception led to a 31-yard touchdown jaunt by Drew Phillips at 10:20 of the second quarter. Then, on the Bulldogs’ following possession, it was Hyzy again with a pick, running the ball back to the Bunnell 15. Four plays later, Phillips slashed his way in from the 3-yard line and the Warriors were up 24-6.
On Bunnell’s next series, the Wilton defense forced a punt that Thoby returned 25 yards to the Warrior 49. Quarterback Jimmy O’Brien went to work, engineering an 8-play drive and completing all four of his passes — three to Mike Coffey and one to Tucker Walden. Matt Gulbin steamrolled into the end zone from one-yard out, increasing Wilton’s lead to 31-6 with less than a minute left in the half.
Bunnell received the second-half kickoff but went nowhere and punted to the Warrior 33. O’Brien (15-of-17, 200 yards) wasted no time as he hooked up with Walden on a 52-yard pass play that set up O’Brien’s 4-yard touchdown toss to Hyzy.
After an exchange of punts (the first of the day for Wilton’s Jack DiRocco), the Warriors held on downs at their 40-yard line. It took Wilton six plays to score, with Phillips (14 carries, 117 yards) sweeping in from the 9-yard line for his third rushing touchdown, making it 45-6 with 1:58 left in the third.
Bunnell, which remained winless (0-6), got its lone offensive touchdown on Mario Solano’s 6-yard ramble with 6:17 left in the game. Dylan Vancho ran in the two-point conversion, putting the final score at 45-14.
“It was a great effort,” said Wilton coach EJ DiNunzio. “This had trap game written all over it and my coaches had me worrying about it at game time. But we played really well and we showed we can win the games we need to. But next week it’s Staples and we need to learn how to win the big one. We’ll need to step it up a notch, and our practices will need all our focus.”