Darien scores late to stun Greenwich High football 33-26

Greenwich High School' Ryan Pasquali runs away from his Darien defender during Friday night's game under the lights at Cardinal Stadium. — John Ferris Robben photo

Greenwich High School’ Ryan Pasquali runs away from his Darien defender during Friday night’s game under the lights at Cardinal Stadium. — John Ferris Robben photo

The Greenwich High School football team completed its comeback in impressive fashion under the lights at Cardinal Stadium Friday night, however it was Darien High School that was able to get the last laugh.

Scoring the go-ahead touchdown with 2:15 to play in the back-and-forth contest, it was the Blue Wave that were able to up their record to 2-0 with a 33-26 victory over the Cardinals.

“I think we are both pretty even team and both have playmakers on each side,” GHS senior Austin Longi said. “We just have to be smart in the future and know when to throw the ball and know when not to. We also need to know when to press man on defense. We need to eliminate mistakes and getting better every week.”

Trailing 26-18 midway through the fourth quarter, Greenwich started the drive on its 20-yard line. However, GHS quarterback Matt Marzulla stepped back on the first play of the drive and hit Anthony Ferraro in stride down the Darien sideline. Ferraro caught the ball at the Darien 40 and sprinted past the DHS defense to complete the 80-yard touchdown reception with 7:01 to play.

Needing a two-point conversion for the tie, senior Austin Longi grabbed the handoff and plowed through the middle of the Darien defense and just got into the end zone to tie the game.

The Greenwich High defense at work during Friday's game. — John Ferris Robben photo

The Greenwich High defense at work during Friday’s game. — John Ferris Robben photo

“All I was thinking about was that we needed to hold Darien,” GHS senior linebacker Jack Weigold said. “We did, but some small mistakes really ended up costing us.”

After each team finished with a three-and-out on its next possession, Darien was able to get the ball back with 4:15 to play and made the most of its drive.

Starting at its 31, Darien quarterback Timothy Graham took the second play of the drive and threw a missile to Colin Minicus down the DHS sideline for the 51-yard completion. Three plays later, Shelby Grant took the handoff 13 yards up the middle for the touchdown with 2:15 to play.

“It was a crazy game, but it was awesome,” Grant said. “I was looking at the scoreboard and was thinking that our season is in these last two minutes. It could have gone either way, but I’m glad it went our way. It’s great that we started 2-0 this season, but we still need to get better every week.”

Greenwich was looking to get down the field for one more shot at the end zone, but an interception from Marzulla with less than two minutes to play ended the game.

Turnovers were the name of the game on both sides of the ball, as Darien turned the ball over five times. However Greenwich wasn’t able to capitalize too much, as they finished with four turnovers on the night.

“It comes down to turnovers and we shot ourselves in the foot today,” Longi said. “We hit the kicker on a punt and we can’t have that. We made some other costly penalties, but we can’t turn over the ball as much as we did if we plan on winning.”

Big Red started the game in grand fashion. With the Blue Wave on a third down and 15 with 5:48 to play in the first quarter, Graham was chased out of the pocket and sacked by Greenwich’s Scooter Harrington. The sack forced Graham to cough up the ball and Greenwich’s Joey Longo was there to scoop the ball up at the Darien 20 and run it in the rest of the way for the touchdown.

Although Darien answered with a 11-yard Peter Archey touchdown run, the Cards came right back. After a targeting penalty on Darien moved the ball to the Greenwich 43, Longi got the handoff, ran to the left, dodged two Darien defenders, spun around a third and darted down the GHS sideline for the 57-yard touchdown to give GHS the 12-7 lead.

“Coming from last week, it was a big improvement on both sides of the ball,” said Weigold, who was a standout linebacker for the Cards against Darien. “What it came down to were the little mistakes. We are going to have to fine tune those, but overall I thought it was a great performance.”

After a perfectly timed pass from Graham to Minicus completed a 35-yard touchdown reception and reclaimed the lead for Darien with 6:55 to play in the half, Greenwich responded.

Although the Blue Wave were driving, a coughed up ball resulted in a a change of possession, giving Greenwich great field position with 3:31 to play in the half.

On the fifth play of the drive, Longi once again got the handoff and once again made the Blue Wave defense fall out of their shoes, spinning and dodging countless defenders and eventually running the 37 yards for the touchdown, giving Greenwich the 18-14 advantage.

A 29-yard field goal by Darien’s Stephen Walker as time expired in the first half cut the deficit to 18-17.

In addition to Ferraro’s 80-yard highlight reel for a touchdown, Grant also had a stellar second half and had a 43-yard touchdown run that saw him break three tackles before sprinting down the GHS sideline.

For more stats and quotes, check out Thursday’s Greenwich Post.

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