Greenwich High football stuns Staples in Turkey Day game, 27-7

Greenwich High School quarterback Matt Marzulla hands the ball off to Tommy Rappa, as GHS captain Justin Gaccione helps clear some room during the Thanksgiving Day game against Staples High School. — Avery Belicka photo

Greenwich High School quarterback Matt Marzulla hands the ball off to Tommy Rappa, as GHS captain Justin Gaccione helps clear some room during the Thanksgiving Day game against Staples High School. — Avery Belicka photo

Using a dominating performance on all sides of the ball, the Greenwich High School football team saved its best football game for the end of the season.

The result was a stunning 27-7 victory over rival Staples High School earlier today in Westport during the annual Thanksgiving Day game.

“I think we played even better than the score indicated,” Greenwich High School head coach Rich Albonizio said. “I thought the defense played their best game of the year against a very good offensive team. Staples is a great team and their quarterback is a terrific player. They hit, they are well-coached and are very difficult to play against because they can do so many things on offense, but this was our turn.”

While Greenwich was able to get three touchdowns on the day from standout junior Austin Longi and another coming from a quarterback keeper by Matt Marzulla, it was Big Red’s defense that stood out, holding the Wreckers to only seven points on the day.

“This is unbelievable,” said senior Jack Wynne, one of the leaders on defense. “After seeing the seniors lose to Staples since I have been here, and seeing them crying after the games, it feels really nice to be able to do this for those guys. It’s the greatest feeling in the world and I am so happy I was able to do it for all those guys. We brought it today on defense. We have been working so hard for nearly two weeks. We weren’t sure we were going to make States, but we knew we would give Staples one hell of a game.”

After forcing the Wreckers to punt on their opening possession, Greenwich didn’t waste time scoring on their opening drive. On a five play drive that was keyed by a Longi 23-yard run, Longi finished the job by taking the handoff and running four yards for the touchdown and 7-0 lead with 9:14 to play in the quarter.

On Staples’ next possession, Longi came up big again, this time picking off Staples’ quarterback Jack Massie. That was the first of two interceptions for Longi on the day.

“It feels great,” Longi said. “I definitely didn’t have one of my better games. Two fumbles weren’t good for me at all, but I did get two picks to make up for them. We came out ready to play for Staples and made it happen. We made sure we had a man on the quarterback and running back the entire time on defense. I felt good with the ball. I found good holes and made it happen when I could.”

Longi helped Greenwich build a 13-0 lead to start the second quarter. Leading the way with a 35-yard run to start the second quarter, Marzulla called his own number five plays later and darted up the middle of the field 14 yards for the touchdown.

Feeding off a huge sack by Wynne on third down that forced Staples to punt to Big Red, Greenwich capitalized on its ensuing possession. On a fourth down and 6 from the Staples 40, Longi grabbed the handoff and darted 36 yards down the field for the first down. The next play saw Marzulla fake the handoff and run 13 yards, just missing a touchdown as his knee hit the turf at the one-yard line.

Two plays later,  Longi ran two yards for the touchdown and 20-0 lead with 6:45 to play in the half.

Staples netted its lone score of the game with 38.2 to play in the half, but Greenwich responded in the second half, using an eight-play drive to find the end zone. With 1:22 to play, Longi took the handoff, ran up the middle of the field, cut towards the Staples’ sideline and sprinted 39 yards for the touchdown and 27-7 lead.

In fact, Greenwich kept the clock rolling and had the pigskin for just under 10 minutes in the third quarter.

“We knew coming into this game that it was going to be a battle and it was definitely a battle,” senior Justin Gaccione said. “We knew we had to get a good push from the offensive line in the first half because they were much bigger than us. I think we did just that. We kept on getting the push and that helped make the holes that Austin and Tommy (Rappa) needed.”

With the victory, Greenwich ended its season 8-3 overall. Staples also finished its season 8-3 overall. To read much more on the game, including more stats, quotes and photos, check out Thursday’s Greenwich Post.

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