Darien pulls away late to beat Wilton, 34-13

A swarm of Darien defenders puts the brakes on Wilton’s Kyle Phillips during the Wave’s 34-13 win on Friday night. — Dave Stewart photo
A swarm of Darien defenders puts the brakes on Wilton’s Kyle Phillips during the Wave’s 34-13 win on Friday night. — Dave Stewart photo

During the past few seasons the Darien High football team has done a remarkable job of concentrating on the task at hand. That’s not always easy, especially with a showdown against rival New Canaan looming later this month.

Teams such as Wilton are ready to take full advantage of any Wave distractions.

The Warriors (4-4) gave unbeaten Darien (8-0) all it could handle before the Wave finally turned on the jets in the second half and picked up a 34-13 victory Friday night at Tom Fujitani Field in Wilton.

“I was really impressed with the way my kids played,” said Wilton head coach E.J. DiNunzio, whose team trailed just 14-6 at halftime.“Darien is coached so well and they don’t do things wrong, but we thought we had a shot to stay with them in the first half. We had some success running it early. In the long run, they’re just a really good team and we came up a little short.”

The Wave’s running attack changed the game in the second half, as the combination of Andrew Lucas and Will Kirby, each of whom scored twice, chewed up time and yardage.

It looked like typical Darien early on. The Wave defense forced a punt on Wilton’s first possession, and the offense then covered 60 yards for a touchdown. A 29-yard strike from quarterback Cooper Hancock to receiver Peter Bredahl started the drive, and a one-yard TD run by Kirby ended it with 4:40 remaining in the first quarter.

Wilton hung tough. The defense, led by a secondary that featured Dean DiNanno, Reilly Bingaman and Thomas Costello, kept the Wave passing game in check, and the offense ate up chunks on the ground with Kyle Phillips and Jack Dexter leading the way.

Quarterback Jimmy O’Brien then connected with Kyle Hyzy for a 21-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. The kick failed, but the Warriors trailed by just one at 7-6.

Wilton forced a Darien punt, but on the third play of the ensuing drive John Henry Slonieski gave the Wave a big defensive play, hammering O’Brien from behind and jarring the ball loose. The fumble was recovered by Alex Quirk at the Darien 49-yard line. Darien capitalized when Kirby scored on a two-yard run with 39.1 seconds on the clock.

The Wave came out in the second half with a quick score, aided by a Wilton penalty on the kickoff that allowed Darien to start at the Warriors’ 49. Led by Lucas, Darien marched down the field and scored on a five-yard run by Will Rolapp for a 21-6 lead.

The teams traded turnovers to start the fourth quarter, with Wilton’s Bingaman getting his second interception of the game and Darien linebacker Connor Fay recovering a fumble on the next play. Lucas then carried the ball in for a two-yard TD and a 28-6 Darien lead.

A 43-yard punt return by Tyler Herget set up the Wave’s next touchdown — a three-yard run by Lucas — and Wilton answered with the game’s final score on a one-yard plunge by Kyle Phillips with 3:23 remaining.

“I am so proud of these guys; I can’t tell you,” DiNunzio said of his Wilton players. “We’re only the second team to score twice against these guys, and they are so solid. They’re a well-coached team and a talented team, so it was a privilege to be able to coach and play against them the way we did.”

Darien 34, Wilton 13

Darien 7-7-7-13 34

Wilton 0-6-0-7 13

First Quarter

D – Will Kirby, one-yard run (Kirby PAT)

Second Quarter

W – Kyle Hyzy, 21-yard pass from Jim O’Brien (PAT failed)

D — Will Kirby, two-yard run (Kirby PAT)

Third Quarter

D — Will Rolapp, five-yard run (Kirby PAT)

Fourth Quarter

D — Andrew Lucas, two-yard run (Kirby PAT)

D — Lucas, three-yard run (PAT failed)

W — Kyle Phillips, one-yard run (Max Colburn PAT)