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Darien Outlasts Wilton in 2OT Football Thriller

DARIEN, Conn. – The Darien High School football team is still undefeated. But the Blue Wave took the most dramatic, heart-stopping route possible to get to 6-0 on the season.

After surrendering a late eight-point lead, Wilton High sent the game into overtime on Saturday afternoon. Each team scored touchdowns on its first two possessions of the extra period.

Then luck swung Darien’s way. Wilton missed the extra point on its second touchdown, and Darien had survived the biggest threat to its unbeaten season, 35-34.

“My parents are here, and they both hate me for how this one went,” joked Darien head coach Rob Trifone. “I was blowing that extra point left from the sidelines, so I take the credit for the win today.”

Trifone cracked jokes after the victory, but it a tough day for the Blue Wave.

Darien watched a 21-13 fourth quarter lead evaporate, as Wilton constructed an impressive drive behind backup quarterback Brett Phillips. The Warriors drove 80 yards in the final three minutes, tying the game at 21-all with 33 seconds to play. Phillips found a wide-open Rob Keers for a 14-yard touchdown and connected with a diving Alex Ward to secure the two-point conversion, forcing the overtime.

Darien could have lost in regulation, as Wilton made an almost identical drive to its eventual game-tying score just minutes before. A crucial holding penalty and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Warriors head coach Bruce Cunningham for arguing the call forced Wilton back 25 yards.

The Warriors clawed back to the 4-yard line but decided to go for the touchdown instead of the field goal on fourth down. Cunningham said after the game that he was unsure his kicker could have made the field goal from the angle where the ball was placed. Either way, Wilton could not score and its final drive became a game-tying score instead of a game-winning one.

Running back Peter Gesualdi scored both overtime touchdowns, bringing his afternoon total to three rushing scores. Kicker Chris Smith turned out to be the hero, making all five of his point-after attempts.

“We were playing for our season. A team's not going to make it to the FCIAC championship with a loss,” Gesualdi said. “It does take some luck. If he makes that field goal, we have to stop them again.”

Lost in the overtime ending was another solid day by quarterback Henry Baldwin . The big junior was 16-for-30 for 158 yards passing with a pair of touchdowns to Harlan Smith and Patrick McDonald.

The win sets up the showdown FCIAC football fans wanted, as Darien travels to Staples next Saturday for a battle of unbeatens. The winner of that game will likely go on to the conference championship.

Tune in to " FCIAC Football Fast Five " on Thursday for analysis of this game.

Follow Eric Gendron on Twitter for the latest MSC-Fairfield County sports coverage. Like The Daily Darien on Facebook .

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