Darien beats McMahon to stay undefeated
DARIEN — The Darien High Blue Wave got back to playing football on Saturday, and even without their head coach, they cruised to yet another victory.
Quarterback Brian Peters threw five touchdowns passes, two to Tim Herget, and Mitchell Pryor rushed for two more scores as the Blue Wave ran their unbeaten streak to 17 games with a 54-17 FCIAC win over Brien McMahon on Saturday afternoon.
Darien has also won 32 straight regular season games, dating back to a 28-14 loss to St. Joseph in 2013.
With Darien coach Rob Trifone sitting out the final day of a two-week suspension handed down by the Darien School District, following an on-field incident with a player on his own team two weeks ago, the Blue Wave never missed a beat.
The Blue Wave put up 47 points in the first half before coasting to the win.
“We came out and we got into a rhythm right away,” said Darien offensive coordinator Tom O’Neill. “We had a good game plan and the kids just came out and executed from the beginning. Offensively, we were happy.”
Peters, a first-year starter as a senior, only played the first half and was 12-for-14 for 273 yards and those five scores. He spread out his passes to five receivers, including Herget (4 catches, 73 yards, 2 TDs), Nick Green (3 catches, 60 yards), Max Grant (2 catches, 82 yards), and Riley Stewart (2 catches, 63 yards).
Darien piled up 402 total yards in the first half and 545 for the game.
“Defensively, it was just too many big plays,” McMahon coach AJ Albano said. “To try and compete with the No. 1 team in the state, you have to control the ball and we were for a while. The problem was they ran seven plays and scored on two of them and that’s just inexcusable, especially because it’s things we talk about and things we are able to do. We’re just not doing them and that’s a shame.”
McMahon went toe-to-toe with Darien in the early going as both teams exchanged a pair of scoring drives.
Eight plays into the game, Darien had taken a 14-7 lead.
Darien took the opening kickoff to near midfield and went 53 yards in three plays with Pryor scoring on a 2-yard counter to start the scoring.
On a third-and-12 from its own 18-yard line, McMahon answered when quarterback Chris Druin scrambled from the pocket and hit Marquis Modest on a short pass. Modest broke a tackle and raced the rest of the way for an 82-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 7-7.
“The big play they had, we just blew a coverage and missed a tackle and they were able to get a big play,” Darien defensive coordinator Mike Forget said.
After taking the kickoff back to the Darien 40, the Blue Wave scored on its very first play from scrimmage when Peters found Maxwell Grant wide open cutting across the middle. Grant caught the ball, turned up field and ran all the way to the end zone for a 60-yard scoring strike and a 14-7 lead.
McMahon put together a 14-play 60-yard drive after that, marching the ball from the Senators own 40 to the Blue Wave 5. While the drive stalled there, kicker Brendan Quinlan-Huertas booted a 22-yard field goal to make it 14-10.
Darien quickly put the game away from there.
Peters hit Nick Green for a 4-yard touchdown and — after McMahon fumbled three plays into its next possession — he found Herget for an 8-yard scoring strike to make it 27-10.
McMahon fumbled the ensuing kick-off, with Darien’s Kevin Grune recovering. Three plays later, Pryor had his second touchdown, a four-yard score, and the Wave had a 34-10 lead.
After holding McMahon to a three-and-out, Darien went for the jugular as Peters hit Riley Stewart on a 46-yard bomb on first down to make it 41-10.
“He’s starting to figure it out,” O’Neill said of Peters. “You can’t replace game experience and last year we had Timmy (Graham), a two-year starter. Sometimes the only way you can get kids better is through game experience.”
Another three-and-out by the Senators preceded another quick Darien touchdown as Peters hit Herget again, this time for a 19-yard scoring strike and a 47-10 lead at intermission.
“What we did was we just played better coverage and we were able to put some pressure on the quarterback in the second and third quarters,” Forget said. “We were just sending more blitzes. Instead of sending four guys, we’d send five to get more pressure.”
McMahon got the opening kick-off and set up a special play that Darien knew was coming but didn’t stop.
On third down, the Senators handed the ball to senior Jamie Taylor. Taylor, a four-year lineman who has Down syndrome, raced up the middle before cutting up the right sideline and racing 60 yards for his first varsity career touchdown.
Darien closed out the scoring with 4:59 left in the third quarter when back-up quarterback AJ Aldridge hit Dillon Jones for a 16-yard scoring pass.
McMahon (0-5) is down to a 27-man roster with 15 two-way players and Albano said depth was another key on Saturday.
“We have some 15 kids doing all three phases of the game and that’s tough,” he said. “But the toughest part of our schedule is over. We have good teams left, don’t get me wrong, but the toughest part of our schedule is. We just have to keep showing up and hopefully we’ll get some wins.”
McMahon hosts Trumbull next Friday while Darien will travel to Danbury.
DARIEN 54, BRIEN McMAHON 17
McMAHON 10 0 7 0—17
DARIEN 20 27 7 0—54
D—Mitchell Pryor 2 run (Riley Stewart kick)
BM—Marquis Modeste 82 pass from Chris Druin (Brendan Quinlan-Huertas kick)
D—Maxwell Grant 60 yard pass from Brian Peters (Stewart kick)
BM—Quinlan-Huertas 22 field goal
D—Nick Green 4 pass from Peters (kick blocked)
D—Tim Herget 8 pass from Peters (Stewart kick)
D—Pryor 4 run (Stewart kick)
D—Stewart 46 pass from Peters (Stewart kick)
D—Herget 19 pass from Peters (Stewart kick)
BM—Jamie Taylor 60 run (Quinlan-Huertas kick)
D—Dillon Jones 20 pass from AJ Aldridge (Austin Hagander kick)
Team Records: BM 0-6; D 6-0.