Ludlowe had its chances

The Fairfield Ludlowe High football team looked to change its fortune against similarly winless Trumbull High on Saturday, but the Falcons couldn’t build off their early momentum.
Ludlowe jumped on the host Eagles early, but their offense sputtered and defensive breakdowns led to a 35-7 Trumbull win.
“There were some positive things, but again we shot ourselves in the foot,” Ludlowe coach Matt McCloskey said.
“They had a couple plays on offense where our defense wasn’t communicating. You can’t do that; not against a Trumbull team, not against any team.”
The Eagles’ victory undid a sparkling start for Ludlowe from senior captain Victor D’Ascenzo.
On the first play of the game, D’Ascenzo tracked down Mike Williams after a 60-yard catch-and-carry at the Ludlowe 16-yard line.
The Falcon (0-3) defensive backfield of Tommy Howell, Dan Silvestri and Dan Santella played good coverage to force two incomplete passes, and Trumbull’s Ryan Pearson’s 27-yard field goal attempt was wide left to help Ludlowe escape unscathed after the big first play.
On the ensuing drive, the Falcons earned a first down with hard runs by Christian Ghiorzi, but the Eagles’ defense buckled down to force a third-and-six at the Ludlowe 36.
D’Ascenzo took a pitch from junior quarterback Matt White and coordinated a perfect halfback option by drawing in the Trumbull backfield with a hard charge to the right before stopping and tossing a strike to a wide-open Dan Santella for a 64-yard touchdown pass.
D’Ascenzo booted the extra point through to give the locals a 7-0 lead with eight minutes to play in the first quarter.
The Falcon defensive front of Alex Gorsuch, David Harris, Sam Murphy and Alex Zeko, and linebackers Jimmy Gasper, Ben Brzoski and Kyle Dammeyer sealed up the Trumbull rush attack on the Eagles’ next possession.
Trumbull, however, overcame a third-and-long and scored on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Nick Roberts to Williams on fourth down to knot the game at 7-7 with four minutes left to play.
After a three-and-out by the Falcons’ offense, Ludlowe’s defense struggled in pass coverage as Trumbull marched 92 yards to take a 14-7 lead at the start the second quarter.
Ludlowe couldn’t capitalize on strong first-down runs by Ghiorzi and D’Ascenzo on its next two possessions.
The Falcons’ defense seemed to have stopped Trumbull at midfield, but a dazzling over-the-shoulder catch on third-and-long by Williams gave the Eagles a 51-yard touchdown and a 21-7 lead with four minutes left in the half.
D’Ascenzo put a jolt into the offense with a 41-yard reception, but the drive into Trumbull territory ended at the 36 with an interception.
Trumbull looked to take advantage of the turnover, but Gorsuch burst through the line to force a poor pass that Santella ripped out of the air to hold the Eagles’ advantage to 21-7 at the half.
The Ludlowe offense came out of the break with renewed energy, as hard runs from Dammeyer (44 yards) and a 20-yard strike to Santella moved the ball onto Trumbull’s side of the field,.
Another attempt at the halfback option resulted in an interception at the Eagle’s 27-yard line.
The Falcon defense forced a punt and Ludlowe again rode runs and receptions by Dammeyer all the way to the Trumbull 14.
The potentially momentum-changing drive died on a fourth-and-two.
For McCloskey, the play highlighted some of the offensive inconsistencies that have held the team back this year.
“We could have driven down the field on them today,” McCloskey said. “There was an opening up the middle for the first down and we decided to go to the outside to try and get six or seven and ended up losing three yards. It was just mental mistakes today.”
The lost opportunity became worse when Trumbull drove down the field on five plays to take a 28-7 lead early in the fourth.
Ludlowe again drove into Trumbull territory, but a deep pass attempt by White was picked off at the goal line.
Trumbull effectively salted the win with a seven-play, 98-yard scoring drive with five minutes left.
McCloskey knew the loss was tough on his players, but it didn’t shake his belief that the team is still bound to make things happen this season.
“We’re going to have to keep our spirits up,” he said. “We can’t make any mistakes against Harding next week. We can’t make any mistakes for the rest of the year. That is what it really comes down to – playing mistake-free football.”

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