FAIRFIELD, Conn. Fairfield Warde tailback Devin Lofton made a thunderous statement that big things might be on the horizon for Mustang football in 2011. The 5-foot-9 senior tore through the Brien McMahon High's defense Friday night, running for 229 yards and the eventual game-winning touchdown in the season opener. The Warde defense held on to McMahon's last-chance drive, as Dave Wolff intercepted Senators quarterback Damien Vega to seal a thrilling 22-15 victory.
"I felt strong. I just kept moving my feet and every run just kept getting better and better," Lofton said. "I was pumped up for my first big start."
Despite Lofton's pristine night, the rest of the game had more than a few first faults. The two teams combined for seven turnovers (McMahon for four, Warde for three), but Warde was helped especially by seven penalties against McMahon for more than 70 total yards.
Tied at 8-8 late in the second quarter, Warde firmly swung the game's momentum in its favor with one huge play. Out of field goal range, the Mustangs went for it on 4th-and-12 and came up big. Quarterback Chris Foley found Dario Pugliano from 25 yards out for a sensational diving catch, giving the Mustangs a 15-8 lead heading into halftime.
McMahon head coach AJ Albano said he knew Warde had something special in Lofton, but no one could have predicted the offensive explosion he would contribute. Lofton carried the Mustangs throughout, going into halftime having already run for 153 yards.
After McMahon opened the second half with a 92-yard scoring drive to tie the game at 15-15, Warde's defense had to step up. The Senators marched down the field twice with drives of 55 and 46 yards, but an interception in the end zone and a stop on fourth down preserved the tie.
Warde finally pieced together its own long drive, marching 74 yards behind Lofton. The speedster capped the evening with a 3-yard touchdown run with 1:15 to play.
With a win under its belt, the schedule only gets harder for Warde. The Mustangs host defending FCIAC champion Darien next Friday, followed a trip to New Canaan in Week 3.
"It was very important to get this win and to see where we stand. I think we have a good chance of going far this year," Lofton said. "Tomorrow we get back at it in the weight room. We have some tough games ahead."
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