Staples football shut out in second half, falls to Danbury
There were plenty of highlight reel plays for the Danbury football team to celebrate in its homecoming game against Staples. There were multiple touchdown passes of over 60 yards, key defensive stops and three forced turnovers in the second half.
The most important number for the Hatters on Saturday was zero. It was the number of points allowed in the second half by the Danbury defense, and the number of turnovers the offensive committed in a virtually flawless performance.
Senior quarterback Anferny Ith was 14 of 26 for 359 yards and four touchdowns as the Hatters pulled off a 35-24 upset of Staples. Danbury improved to 4-2 while the Wreckers dropped to 3-3.
"(Staples) came out in the beginning of the game and beat us up," Danbury coach Mark Ecke said. "They did some stuff they we really weren't prepared for. Once we adjusted to that the kids played better defense in the second half. They moved the ball on us, but we made plays when we needed to."
Trailing 24-21 late in the third quarter, Pierre Mondourou took a short pass 76 yards for a touchdown to give Danbury the lead. The Wreckers embarked on an 11-play drive bridging the third and fourth quarters, but it ended on a 4th-and-7 incomplete pass on the Hatters' 11-yard line.
"It's nice to have kids that can take it the distance on any given play," Ecke said. "We had that a few times today."
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Ith shined on the ensuing drive to wrap up the win. On a crucial 3rd-and-10 at his own 11, Ith threw a 57-yard strike to Matt Andrew. Two plays later, a 27-yard lob to Mondourou put Danbury in position to score and Eric Henry found the end zone from three yards out to increase the lead to 35-24 with 8:16 remaining.
"(Ith) had a great game," Ecke said. "He did a great job getting the ball out and our wide receivers made great plays."
Staples drove into Danbury territory again on the next drive, but another fourth down pass fell incomplete and the Hatters ran out the clock form there.
"Same old thing (for us); turnovers and untimely penalties," Staples coach Marce Petroccio said. "I didn't think we came out too inspired to play today and they did. I give (Danbury) all the credit, they deserve it."
Jake Melnick hauled in two touchdowns for Staples, while running back Ethan Burger had 111 yards on 24 carries. The Wreckers scored touchdowns on three of their four first drives, but had four turnovers, three failed fourth downs, two field goal attempts and a punt on their final nine drives.
"Those mistakes are very difficult to overcome," Petroccio said. "Missed opportunities; this is a tough thing for us right now."
Homecoming is usually reserved for a comfortable win against an inferior opponent, but the Hatters saved their best for their opponents from Westport. Just two years ago, Staples stomped Danbury 51-6 on its own field.
"When I saw my schedule and I saw this was our homecoming I was like `really;' that wasn't something I was really excited about," Ecke said. "It worked out great for us; this is a dream come true for our kids."
Next up for Staples is a trip to New Canaan on Friday, Oct. 24. Game time against the undefeated Rams is set for 7 p.m.