Ridgefield football team knocks off Wilton, 21-6

Gianni Gorham looks to elude a Staples player after catching a pass in Friday night's game. — Scott Mullin photo
Gianni Gorham looks to elude a Staples player after catching a pass in Friday night's game. — Scott Mullin photo

The streak continues.

For the 21st consecutive time, the Ridgefield High football team remained unbeaten against arch-rival Wilton.

It wasn't easy, though. The Warriors had a chance to go ahead early in the fourth quarter before Ridgefield scored two touchdowns to come away with a 21-6 road victory on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Wilton.

The Tigers now have 20 wins and one tie in their last 21 meetings with Wilton. The Warriors' last victory over Ridgefield was back in 1993.

Trailing 7-0, Wilton got a three-yard touchdown run from Kyle Phillips within the first minute of the fourth quarter. Instead of kicking an extra point that would have tied the game, the Warriors opted to go for two points. Quarterback Jimmy O’Brien trotted left to get out of trouble and had a receiver open in the end zone, but Ridgefield linebacker Kurt Monahan swatted down O'Brien's pass to preserve the Tigers' 7-6 lead.

Ridgefield then capitalized on the momentum. After two completions to wide receiver Evan Wein, quarterback Owen Matthews connected with Gianni Gorham on a 26-yard touchdown pass. Sebastian Gasparo added the extra point, extending the Tigers' advantage to 14-6 with 9:48 to play.

The teams traded possessions before Wilton got the ball back with just over five minutes to play. Starting from their own 43-yard line, the Warriors used a pass-interference call on Ridgefield and a 19-yard pass from O'Brien to Dean DiNanno to reach the Tigers' nine-yard line.

But Wilton lost a yard on its next two plays, setting up a third and goal from the Ridgefield 11-yard line. Defensive end Nick Hall got past the Wilton offensive line and sacked O'Brien for a nine-yard loss that pushed the Warriors back to the Ridgefield 20-yard line. O'Brien's fourth-down pass was incomplete, turning the ball over to the Tigers on downs with 2:53 left.

Ridgefield sealed the victory with an 80-yard drive that ended with Jack Englert's seven-yard touchdown run. Gasparo's third extra point of the game put the Tigers ahead 21-6 with 1:10 remaining.

"We all played the game like it was our last ..." said Gorham. "Our team really put their hearts and souls into this game for the people of Ridgefield and the players of the past who have beaten Wilton as well."

The opening half was chippy, as the high-intensity setting contributed to personal fouls and unsportsmanlike-conduct calls. Wilton could not find any rhythm offensively during the first quarter, and Ridgefield was unable to execute in the red zone.

The Tigers broke through on a scoring drive that began at their own 32-yard line. Matthews threw a 21-yard pass to Jack Wright and then fired a beautiful, high-arching 35-yard touchdown pass to Gorham. Gasparo's extra point gave Ridgefield a 7-0 lead with 1:54 left in the first quarter.

Midway through the second quarter, the Tigers drove inside the Wilton 30-yard line. But a sack by Matt Gulbin and a stop by linebacker Drew Herlyn on a third-and-two play led Ridgefield to attempt a field goal attempt that went wide right.

With Wilton at its own 42-yard line, Ridgefield linebacker Jackson Mitchell sacked O'Brien and forced a fumble. Daniel Moroney recovered the ball and ran all the way to the Wilton six-yard line. But the Tigers promptly turned the ball over via a fumble on second and goal.

The half ended with two more turnovers. Ridgefield's Owen Gaydos made a diving interception on an O'Brien pass that was tipped, and Wilton's Alex Pica picked off Matthews with one minute remaining.

Notes: Wilton and Ridgefield are both 3-3 this season with four games left for each team.