Football: Warriors come up short against St. Joseph

The Wilton High football team traded punches with St. Joseph early in Monday night’s game at home, scoring on three of its first four possessions to forge a 21-21 in the second quarter.

Unfortunately, against a team with so many offensive weapons like the Cadets, it’s hard to keep pace. And in the end the Warriors couldn’t keep up in a 41-21 loss at Fujitani Field.

St. Joseph (3-1) scored on its first six possessions, building a 34-21 lead early in the third quarter. Wilton, after racking up 211 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in the first half, had only 36 rushing yards in the second half and was held scoreless.

The Warriors fell to 2-2 with the loss.

“They’re one of the best teams in the state and we gave a great effort tonight. We played as hard as we can play,” said Wilton head coach Bruce Cunningham. “When you play against a real good team like that, any little mistake is a huge mistake.”

St. Joseph finished the game with 478 total yards, unofficially. Quarterback David Summers completed 22 of 25 passes for 284 yards and three touchdowns, while running back Jaden Shirden rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, and also had four catches for 31 yards and one touchdown.

Receiver William Diamantis also had a big game with nine catches for 158 yards and one touchdown.

“They’ve got a lot of weapons. You turn the film on one week and one guy’s making all the catches. Then you turn it on another week and it’s another guy making all the catches. And you know their back is good,” said Cunningham. “They made some plays. There were a couple of times we didn’t get our assignments right when we had a chance to get out of a drive. You can’t extend their drives when you have a chance to get out of it.”

For Wilton, fullback Harvey Alexander rushed for 128 yards and three TDs on 25 carries, while Kyle Phillips ran for 60 yards on six carries. Quarterback Brian Calabrese completed five of nine passes for 56 yards.

Wilton got the start in needed by receiving the opening kick and marching 69 yards in seven plays to score, highlighted by runs of 19 and 33 yards by Phillips. Alexander capped it off with a two-yard TD run.

The Cadets answered back, going 79 yards on 14 plays, with Shirden scoring from a yard out.

A 55-yard kick return by Phillips set Wilton up in St. Joseph territory, and a 40-yard run by Drew Herlyn moved the ball to the 12-yard line. Alexander ran it in from there on an amazing second- and third-effort play where he broke several tackles before carrying a player the final five yards into the end zone.

That put Wilton up 14-7 with 2:32 left in the first quarter. St. Joseph needed only five plays and two minutes to score, when Summers connected with Diamantis on a 41-yard pass to the Wilton 16-yard line. Two plays later, Shirden scored from the nine to tie the game.

Wilton’s next drive resulted in a punt, and the Cadets again needed little time to score, with Summers and Diamantis hooking up for a 39-yard TD pass to make it 21-14.

Wilton came back to tie the game again as Alexander went up the middle for gains of 18 and 17 yards, before scoring from the two with 6:47 left in the half.

The next St. Joseph drive ended in a 23-yard Luke Kirby field goal. The Cadets got the ball at their own nine-yard line with a minute left in the half and moved all the way to the Wilton 16. But after a sack by AJ Pykosz and short pass play, the Cadets settled for 32-yard field goal by Kirby as the half expired.

Kirby for the night was two-for-two on field goals and five-for-five on PATs.

The two teams combined for more than 530 total yards in the first half — 325 for St. Joseph and 211 for Wilton.

The Wilton defense, looking to make a stop to open the third quarter, held tough but St. Joseph managed to convert four third-down plays to keep the drive going, before Summers found Jared Mallozzi for a 12-yard TD pass to up the lead to 34-21.

Wilton got into St. Joseph territory on all three drives in the second half, including one drive to the Cadets’ 16-yard line, but couldn’t finish the drives off.

The final St. Joseph TD came on a 13-yard screen pass from Summers to Shirden with 8:38 left in the game.

“We just weren’t able to finish the drives in the second half. It seemed like we got off track on one of the plays and then we had to chase the yardage too much, and that’s not our game. We have to stay ahead of the chains. We can’t get behind the chains, and we did a couple of times,” said Cunningham.

Mallozzi finished with four catches for 55 yards and one TD for St. Joseph. Robbie Hermann had two catches for 22 yards for Wilton. Drew Phillips had one catch for 25 yards and Joe Pozzi one catch for three yards. Kyle Phillips had one catch for six yards.