Greenwich football blanks Norwalk, 49-0

The Greenwich High School football team seems to be getting its confidence back on all sides of the ball.

Earlier tonight at Cardinal Stadium, the Cardinals utilized a high-powered running attack, a fast striking passing game and an extremely stingy defensive unit to make quick work of Norwalk High School, winning 49-0.

“It’s a great feeling tonight,” GHS senior captain Jack Wynne said. “We definitely needed a statement game. Last week we had a nice win, but we needed to stay positive and put in a performance like we did tonight. We had a couple of tough losses earlier in the season, but I think we are now building momentum and that’s an awesome feeling.”

For Greenwich head coach Rich Albonizio, the victory against Norwalk came at a perfect time.

“We played three really good teams so far,” Albonizio said. “Darien is good, but I don’t think they are as good as New Canaan or West Haven. We really shot ourselves in the foot in that game. I think we got a little bit of our swagger back now, but next week we got another tough game against Trumbull.”

Although the Bears dominated the time of possession in the first quarter, it was Big Red that grabbed the early 14-0 lead.

Norwalk started the game with possession of the ball and was efficiently running the ball down the field. However a key holding penalty forced the Bears back and they weren’t able to recover.

With just over 7:20 to playing the opening quarter, Norwalk punted the ball to Greenwich, however it landed in the capable hands of junior Austin Longi, who scooped up the ball and darted down the middle of the field. He made a cut towards the GHS sideline and outran the rest of the NHS defense for the 62-yard touchdown with 7:10 to play.

“It’s hard to not kick the ball to Austin,” Albonizio said. “You can’t just give up field position. If you could get your hands on him, you might be able to put him down, but it’s really hard to get your hands on him. We got him a little angry tonight by not playing him as much on offense and it seemed to help. He looked like the Austin we thought he would be. He turned on the jets tonight. He made one cut and he was gone.”

Norwalk had another long drive, but again it stalled. Starting on its own 46-yard line, Greenwich worked quickly. The drive that started with 2:02 on the clock, ended with a five-yard touchdown run by senior Tommy Rappa with 16.9 seconds to play in the quarter.

The drive was highlighted by 31-yard run down the GHS sideline by Rappa. In fact, during the seven-play drive, Rappa ran six of the plays and accounted for all 54 yards on the drive.

“Tommy’s been running great for us,” Albonizio said. “This is like three weeks in a row that he’s had a really good game. What he does so well is that he hits the hole fast and that’s what we’re looking for when we run our options. He’s a fun kid to watch. He’s not really big, but he is really tough.”

This time it was Big Red’s defense that stepped up its game. On the next drive for Norwalk, the Greenwich defense was swarming. Chris Fischer and Luca Gabriele combined for a sack, Jack Harrington forced another sack on the next play and the Cards’ defense combined to stop Norwalk on third down.

After a short punt gave Big Red possession on the Greenwich 47, they went back to work and used its passing game. Greenwich quarterback Matt Marzulla found Harrington for 15 yards and Devin McGrath a play later for 11 more yards. On the next play, Joey Fedorko got the ball and ran 29 yards down the Norwalk sideline for what appeared to be a touchdown, however Greenwich was called for the holding and the play came back.

Staying cool under pressure, GHS didn’t back down, as Marzulla found Rappa for a six-yard completion. Rappa then combined for nine yards on the next two possessions before Marzulla fake the throw and sprinted up the middle of the field for the easy 12-yard touchdown run with 5:03 to play in the half.

Greenwich made quick work in its last drive of the half and made the score 28-0 heading into the lockers.

On the first play of that drive, Longi got the handoff and used his incredible quickness to dart past the Norwalk up the middle of the field. He then faked out two more NHS defenders and finished running down the Greenwich sideline for the 59-yard touchdown run with 1:32 left in the half.

“Our offense is really coming around and has played two really good games,” Albonizio said. “This was probably the best offense that we have had all year. It’s nice to get a shut out against a very powerful team. They have a lot of big, strong kids and some good backs. Everybody contributed tonight.”

Greenwich added three more touchdowns in the second half. On its first possession of the second half, Marzulla stepped back and threw a missile to Jose Melo, who caught the ball, cut left and ran down the middle of the field the rest of the way for the 49-yard touchdown.

“We looked really good, but there are still some things that we need to work on,” Melo said. “I like the speed of our offense. We were ground-and-pound and had the stamina to keep going. I like that our running game is doing so well that it’s opening our play action passing for us. You’re now going to have to pick and stop Austin (Longi), Tommy (Rappa) or me.”

With 4:02 to play in the third quarter, Big Red struck again, as Fedorko scored his second touchdown of the game, running 10 yards for the score. Ryan Pasquali got into the score column by running 43 yards for the touchdown with 11:06 to play in the fourth quarter.

With the victory, Greenwich upped its record to 3-2 on the season and will be back in action Friday night when they travel to Trumbull High School. Kickoff is slated for 7.

“Every week I tell these guys that they need to improve and honestly all week we did just that,” Wynne said. “We need to do the same thing to get ready for Trumbull. If we could keep that up for Trumbull and every game we play this year, I think we ran potentially run the table.”

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