Shirden’s 4 TDs lead way as No. 2 St. Joseph routs Wilton, stays unbeaten
WILTON — A five-minute stretch early in the second quarter turned out to be an aberration, not an adjustment.
Down 28 points to No. 2 ranked St. Joseph, the Wilton football team scored two quick touchdowns to cut its deficit in half with 7:09 left in the second quarter. And after forcing a punt, the Warriors converted a third-and-16 play to get a first down at the St. Joseph 42.
In stepped Dennis Rotunno. The Cadets’ senior linebacker picked off Jimmy O’Brien’s pass and returned the ball 42 yards to the Wilton 11. Three plays later, quarterback Jack Wallace found running back Jaden Shirden for a 9-yard touchdown pass.
Order was restored. St. Joseph added another touchdown in the final minute of the second quarter to restore its 28-point advantage and went on to rout Wilton, 56-14, at Tom Fujitani Field.
St. Joseph’s start was jaw dropping. The Cadets (3-0) scored touchdowns on their first four possessions to open a 28-0 lead just four seconds into the second quarter.
The scoring montage included Wallace’s 15-yard pass to Will Diamantis and three touchdowns by Shirden, including a 46-yard scamper along the right sideline.
Anchored by nose tackle Jermaine Williams, the St. Joseph defense allowed no first downs during the opening quarter. O’Brien was sacked twice as the Warriors went three-and-out on their first three possessions.
“I thought we came out really fired up and played physically. The offensive line, especially early in the game, did some good things” St. Joseph coach Joe DellaVecchia said. “Defensively, up front, I thought we played well.”
But with a blowout looming, Wilton (2-1) got creative. On a flea flicker, O’Brien pitched the ball to Drew Phillips, who lofted a pass to Wooder Thoby for 59 yards down to the St. Joseph 21. O’Brien hit Kyle Hyzy for 13 more yards before connecting with Hyzy again on a 3-yard TD pass.
Hyzy wasn’t done. On a second down from the Cadets’ 19, he intercepted Wallace’s pass and returned the ball to the St. Joseph 17. Hyzy added a 12-yard catch to set up O’Brien’s 1-yard touchdown run, and Parker Woodring’s extra point pulled Wilton within 28-14.
“I was more concerned about the mistakes we were making than the score,” said DellaVecchia about Wilton’s brief resurgence. “But it was good for us to face a little adversity. We haven’t had that, so it was good to see how we faced it.”
The first response was Rotunno’s interception, which stuck a pin in Wilton’s momentum. Shirden’s fourth TD made it 35-7, and the Cadets extended their lead to 42-14 on Wallace’s 28-yard pass to an uncovered Owen DaSilva with 53 seconds left in the half.
“Defensively, I was disappointed,” said Wilton coach EJ DiNunzio. “Guys were running wide open all over the field … blown assignments. We’ve got a lot of work to do. The good thing is it’s week three. We have time to fix stuff.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jaden Shirden, St. Joseph. The senior running back scored four touchdowns — all in the first half.
“I’m always impressed with St. Joe’s. They spread the field and they’ve got quarterbacks that can throw it and they’ve got guys that can catch it and guys that can run the ball. It’s a recipe for winning.” — EJ DiNunzio, Wilton head coach
ST. JOSEPH 56
ST. JOSEPH 21 21 14 0 — 56
WILTON 0 14 0 0 — 14
SJ — Will Diamantis 15-yard pass from Jack Wallace (Austin Jose kick), 10:00
SJ — Jaden Shirden 46-yard run (Jose kick), 7:17
SJ — Shirden 1-yard run (Jose kick), 2:57
SJ — Shirden 2-yard run (Jose kick), 11:56
W — Kyle Hyzy 5-yard pass from Jimmy O’Brien (Parker Woodring kick), 10:26
W — O’Brien 1-yard run (Woodring kick), 7:09
SJ — Shirden 9-yard pass from Wallace (Jose kick), 2:22
SJ —Owen DaSilva 28-yard pass from Wallace (Jose kick), 53.1
SJ — Brady Hutchison 30-yard pass from Wallace (Jose kick), 6:33
SJ — Wallace 3-yard run (Jose kick), 3:01