WILTON — A successful Platt football season came to an end Tuesday night in the Class MM quarterfinals in freezing temperatures at Wilton High School’s Fujitani Field.
The host No. 3 Warriors defeated the No. 6 Panthers 35-14 behind a pair of rushing touchdowns by Todd Woodring as well as three touchdowns through the air and more than 100 rushing yards from junior quarterback Joey Hagerty.
Wilton (9-2) will face No. 2 Masuk (9-2), a 42-21 winner over Cheshire, in Sunday’s state semifinals. The defeat ended Platt’s season at 8-3.
The Panthers changed up their starting lineup for the quarterfinals, giving freshman Austen Standish his first career start at quarterback and he directed Platt to an early 7-0 lead.
Standish was 9-for-13 for 132 yards and a TD in the first half. He was 11-for-20 for the game for 158 yards, the TD and a pick.
“He’s a dynamic player,” Platt coach Jason Bruenn said of the freshman. “We wanted to give him a shot. We thought the changeup was good with him running the ball. When you are running the ball a little bit and breaking things down, you can throw the ball a little bit. We felt he gave us a better chance playing them a second time.”
Wilton, which had beaten Platt 32-14 in Week 3 of the regular season, held a 21-14 lead at the half on Tuesday night. Platt senior tight end Jayden Vega caught two touchdown passes to account for Platt’s points. The scores were from 4 and 63 yards.
Wilton had a pair of TD runs by Woodring from 2 and 3 yards.
Hagerty had nine carries for 96 yards in the first half and 15 hauls for 116 yards on the night. He also threw a 29-yard TD pass to Ryan Smith, who made six catches for 51 yards.
Platt went up 7-0 on the second possession of the game. Standish connected with senior Amari Robinson on passes of 30 yards and 33 yards. On a 3rd-and-goal from the 4-yard line, senior Zack Baker set up as quarterback and found Vega over the middle for the touchdown with four minutes to go in the first quarter.
Wilton responded to tie the game on its next drive. Woodring capped the march with a 3-yard run with 11:27 to go in the second quarter.
Following a Platt punt, Wilton took its first lead of the game, 14-7, with 6:22 to go in the first half on the 29-yard connection to Smith from Hagery. Smith also nabbed a 6-yard reception on a 4th-and-5 earlier in the drive.
Platt tied the game at 14-14 late in the second quarter. On a 5-play drive, Standish found Vega down the middle near midfield and the big tight end rolled all the way into the end zone for a 63-yard score.
“We’ve been waiting all year for the guy,” Bruenn said of Vega. “Today, he opened up and we got him the ball. It was nice.”
The Warriors responded with a 7-play drive capped by Woodring’s second TD run of the game. He plunged in from the 2 with 53 seconds left in the first half to put Wilton up 21-14 heading into halftime.
The squads exchanged punts to open the third quarter before the Warriors put together a 10-play drive that was finished off by a 14-yard TD connection from Hagerty to Nicholas Stevenson in the right corner of the end zone. The play with 5:16 to go in the third quarter had the hosts ahead, 28-14.
Wilton’s Jack Schwartz picked off Standish to stall a Platt drive, but the Panther defense responded and forced a Warriors punt.
Wilton scored its final TD early in the fourth quarter as Hagerty connected with Luke Umphred from 4 yards with 9:12 to go. It was Umphred’s first and only catch of the game
“This is the second game in a row I asked the kids for 48 solid minutes and they gave me all they had,” Bruenn said. “Wilton is a great program and, the luck of the draw, we had them again. We went up 7-0 and had them back and forth.
“But there’s no disappointment; I’m not upset,” Bruenn continued. “I think these kids played hard and 8-3 is not a bad record. This will be one of the better teams to have played at Platt.”
Wilton coach E.J. DiNunzio said his team wore down Platt some in the second half.
“I expected this type of game and it was 14-14 early, and I think they got a little tired because they have a lot of guys going both ways,” DiNunzio said. “They are a solid football team and, for us, it’s about escaping and moving on. That’s what the tournament is all about.”