Staples football holds off Wilton
Trailing by two touchdowns early, Wilton High eventually found a way to move the ball effectively against Staples.
Three times the Warriors possessed the ball in the second half on Friday, and on each, they drove into Wreckers territory. But much to the Warriors' dismay, those long trips down the field didn't result in points.
Cornerback Bobby Jacowleff picked off Wilton's Brett Phillips at Staples' 4-yard line with 52 seconds remaining, helping the Wreckers hold on for a 14-7 home win.
Beginning on their own 24 with 2:57 left, the Warriors (1-1) moved the ball into the red zone on just five plays. But Phillips, who had recently connected on a 27-yard pass to move the Warriors within striking distance, had his pass undercut along the end zone to seal it.
Staples shook off two turnovers and a slew of other mistakes to improve to 1-1 -- nine days after opening the year with a narrow 30-22 defeat to top-ranked Xavier.
"We were out of sync tonight," Staples head coach Marce Petroccio said. "It was the perfect storm. We're very fortunate to get out of here with a win."
The second of those turnovers -- linebacker TJ Savvaides' interception of Jack Massie -- gave Wilton the ball at Staples' 8-yard line with seven seconds left in the first half. But the Warriors, who trailed 14-7 at the time, saw the drive result in a missed 26-yard field goal following a false start penalty and a 4-yard run. Massie was also picked off by Patrick Ryan in the first quarter.
"We got penalties in a crucial moment in drives," Wilton head coach Bruce Cunningham said. "That's our fault. ¦ We can't make those penalties in games like this because they seem to come back to hurt you."
The Warriors put together back-to-back 12-play drives in the second half, but each trip resulted in a turnover on downs.
Staples struggled to move the ball, but not did lack explosive plays early. Will Johnson returned a punt 75 yards for a score with 7:01 left in the first quarter to put the Wreckers up 7-0.
Running back Patrick Lesch, playing in his first game back from a hip injury, gave the Wreckers a 14-0 lead with a 9-yard run in the second quarter. The senior carried the ball eight times for 62 yards in the opening half, boosting his team's shorthanded backfield.
"It was closer than we would've liked, but we'll take every game we can get," Lesch said. "We'll come out here just as hard every week."
Phillips cut Staples' lead in half just 1:07 before halftime with a 9-yard scoring run.
Despite winning, Petroccio explained that the Wreckers have to improve on both sides of the ball.
"It's a combination of two things," Petroccio said. "We need the ball back, and when we get it back, we've got to move it a little bit. Tonight was a myriad of mistakes, but you have to give Wilton credit."
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STAPLES 14, WILTON 7
WILTON 0 7 0 0 -- 7
STAPLES 7 7 0 0 -- 14
S--Will Johnson 75 punt return (Mike Gifford kick)
S--Patrick Lesch 6 run (Gifford kick)
W--Brett Phillips 9 run (EJ Sassani kick)
Records: Wilton 1-1, 0-1 FCIAC; Staples 1-1, 1-0.