Longi has monster evening as Greenwich football slams Danbury, 57-29

Greenwich High School junior Austin Longi breaks free from the Danbury defense during Firday night's game. — John Ferris Robben photo

Greenwich High School junior Austin Longi breaks free from the Danbury defense during Firday night’s game. — John Ferris Robben photo

Greenwich High School junior Austin Longi wasn’t going to let anything get in his way of helping his team head into the Thanksgiving game on a high note during last night’s battle at Danbury High School.

The GHS junior had a remarkable game for Big Red, as Longi finished with five rushing touchdowns, one touchdown reception, one punt return for a score and added an interception on the defensive side of the ball to help the Cardinals pull away from the Hatters and net a 57-29 victory.

“I come out every week and do what my team needs me to do,” Longi said. “If I get carries, I try to make the most out of every single one. Unfortunately I got tackled on a couple of them, but I can’t just settle for just five. I need to get as many as possible in order to help the team win. If teams want to go outside, I’ll cut it back in and if they stack the middle, I’ll go outside.”

In the first half alone, Longi finished with 340 yards and netted six plays for 21 yards, with three of them over 50 yards. His first half performance was highlighted in the final seconds of the first half. After Greenwich got possession of the ball with 30 seconds left and lost six yards on the first play from scrimmage, it appeared as if the Cards were going to run out the clock.

However, with less than five seconds remaining in the half, GHS quarterback Matt Marzulla got the ball in Longi’s hards, as the running back darted down the Greenwich sideline, deked several Danbury defenders along the way and ran 65 yards for the touchdown with no time left on the clock.

While Longi was firing on all cylinders, yet again, for Big Red in the victory, senior Kendrick Pozo was thrilled to just see some game action. After missing nearly the entire season due to injury, Pozo finally was cleared to suit up yet again.

“It feels great today,” Pozo said. “I haven’t played in seven weeks and I wanted to come out, play hard and give it all I have. I only have two games left possibly, so I want to try and make the most of it. The linebackers did their assignment and read their guards. The defensive tackles came down hard and we all got to the ball. That’s how you win games.”

Greenwich started the game against Danbury as well as they were hoping. Their first touchdown took only five plays and was highlighted by Tommy Rappa’s 28-yard run up the middle.

After the Hatters went three-and-out on their ensuing possession, Greenwich got the ball back at their 45-yard line. This time it took six plays. Jose Melo grabbed the nine-yard reception from Marzulla, Rappa pushed through the middle for 14 yards and Longi cut to the left and picked up 19 yards during the scoring drive.

Despite the early 12-0 lead, Danbury came back strong. Michael Pesantez found the end zone on a four-yard run with 2:04 to play in the first quarter and quarterback Anferny Ith found Tysheen McCrea wide open for the 41-yard touchdown reception that gave the Hatters a 14-12 lead with 10:49 left in the half.

Again, Greenwich was highly-efficient on offense during its ensuing possession. On a third down and two, an offsides penalty on Danbury gave Big Red a fresh set of downs. On the next play, Marzulla found Longi on the flat and after spinning past a few DHS defenders, Longi sprinted down the Danbury sideline for the 51-yard touchdown.

Although Greenwich was up 18-14, the lead didn’t last song. In fact, it lasted less than 20 seconds. On the kickoff, Danbury’s Elijah Duffy got the ball at the Danbury 14 and returned it to the end zone for an 86-yard touchdown and a 20-18 lead.

Greenwich answered with back-to-back touchdown drives, although the first one didn’t come easy. The Cardinals faced a third down and 20 and a fourth down and goal at the Danbury 2. Both times Longi stood tall, as he caught a Marzulla pass for 28 yards on the third down and long and got the ball in the end zone on the fourth down.

Big Red iced the game immediately after Danbury’s opening drive of the second half stalled. On the punt, Longi scooped up the ball and sprinted 45 yards for the touchdown with 7:01 to play in the third.

With the victory, Greenwich improved to 7-3 overall and will close out the regular season on Thanksgiving Day with its annual battle with perennial powers Staples High School.

“We need to play hard,” Pozo said. “There are no days off in practice. We need to come out and work hard if we are going to win.”

“We need to be firing on all cylinders,” Marzulla said. “Defense played a great game tonight, but we can’t give up 29 points. The offense need to cut down on the mental mistakes and stay away from penalties. I had a couple of bad reads tonight and we all need to improve if we are going to beat Staples.”

To read more on the game against Danbury, check out Thursday’s Greenwich Post.

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