Greenwich football blitzed by New Canaan, 66-20

GHS snior captain Frank Wynne looks to make the tackle on New Canaan's Frank Cognetta during Saturday's game at Cardinal Stadium. — Dave Stewart photo

GHS snior captain Frank Wynne looks to make the tackle on New Canaan’s Frank Cognetta during Saturday’s game at Cardinal Stadium. — Dave Stewart photo

Although the Greenwich High School football team kept the game close in the opening quarter, they weren’t able to stop New Canaan High School in the second, as the Rams exploded for 21 points in just over a three-minute span and went on to beat Big Red 66-20 earlier today at Cardinal Stadium.

“Once it snowballed, we were unable to stop it,” Greenwich head coach Rich Albonizio said. “The punt block for a touchdown was big and the interception for a touchdown was big. They scored right before the half and they took advantage of their opportunities. We put them back in game in the second quarter and they made the most of it.”

After the Rams netted a 32-yard field goal to open the scoring, Big Red came back in a big way. Austin Longi took the ensuing kickoff and darted down the middle of the field. He cut to towards the GHS sideline and sprinted 65 yards for the touchdown with 8:37 to play in the first quarter and gave Big Red the 6-3 advantage.

“I thought we came out and really set the tone nicely,” GHS senior captain Justin Gaccione said. “It was tight in the first quarter, but New Canaan started really making plays. I thought we did well in the first quarter. We have played the best three teams that we are going to see all year, so I think that things will be uphill from here.”

With the Rams leading 10-6 in the second quarter, New Canaan found the end zone when quarterback Nick Cascione called his own number and ran four yards for the touchdown with nine minutes left in the half.

Greenwich got the ball, but their drive lasted three plays. On the third, GHS quarterback Jose Melo was intercepted by Cole Harris, who ran for the easy 24-yard pick six with 7:52 to play in the half.

Big Red went three-and-out on its next drive, but on the punt, Harris was able to get a hand on the ball for the block. Cass Knox scooped up the loose ball at the Greenwich 12-yard line and rumbled to the end zone for the touchdown that gave NCHS the 31-6 lead.

On Greenwich’s next possession, Melo attempted the deep pass to Longi down the GHS sideline, however Mike DiCosmo was there for the interception.

Starting on their 25-yard line, the Rams had two runs for Morgan Carson for a combined 34 yards and two complete passes for 14 yards each by Seth Neeleman that help set New Canaan up for the six-yard touchdown run by Cascione.

“We were close a couple of times to get some sacks, but their quarterback was still able to make plays,” Albonizio said. “Even when we had him covered or had a good rush, he was able to make the play. He is a really good quarterback. You can’t give up punt blocks and interceptions for a touchdown against a good team like that. They are very well-coached and their kids know where they need to be.”

After the Rams scored on its first two possessions in the second half to make the score 52-6, Greenwich was able to fight back, and did it with a new look. With Matt Marzulla at quarterback and Melo moved from quarterback to wide receiver, Greenwich had an added dimension of attack.

On a second down and five, Marzulla stepped back and fired a missile to Melo down the GHS sideline for 34 yards. A play later, Tommy Rappa bolted up the middle for 15 yards and the touchdown with 5:15 left in the third quarter.

“I thought we came out great in the second half better than I expected,” Gaccione said. “I really like the way we battled and kept our head’s up. We showed a lot of pride in the second half.”

After NCHS punted on its next possession, the duo of Marzulla and Melo struck again. On a second down and seven, Marzulla connected with Melo in the middle of the end zone for the 14-yard reception. Marzulla and Longi connected on the two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 55-20.

“Matt got a lot of talent, but his only problem earlier was that he was just throwing the ball up for grabs,” Albonizio said. “He has gotten a lot better and has a great arm. Jose is probably our best receiver, but the problem was that he’s our starting quarterback. Matt did a nice job. He was able to find Jose, who is really fast, runs good patterns and he blocks. Matt is a little bit taller and having Matt in the game gives us a little bit more of a threat at wide receiver.”

With the loss, Greenwich fell to 1-2 on the season and will be back in action Saturday afternoon when they travel up to Stamford and battle Trinity Catholic High School (0-3). On Friday night, the Crusaders traveled up to Fairfield Warde High School and fell 13-7, giving the Mustangs their first win in eight consecutive games.

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