Greenwich High football nets first win with victory over Trinity

Greenwich High School quarterback Matt Marzulla (12) readies to snap the ball, with offensive lineman Ian Bannon (65) and running back Austin Longi (3) set for action Thursday night at Cardinal Stadium. — Avery Belicka photo

Greenwich High School quarterback Matt Marzulla (12) readies to snap the ball, with offensive lineman Ian Bannon (65) and running back Austin Longi (3) set for action Thursday night at Cardinal Stadium. — Avery Belicka photo

This one has to feel good for the Greenwich High School football team.

Playing in front of their home fans at Cardinal Stadium, Big Red built a quick 14-0 lead against Trinity Catholic High School and was able to pick up its first point in the win column of the season with the 28-13 victory Thursday night.

“It’s a good feeling,” Greenwich High School head coach Rich Albonizio said. “At 21-0 we shot ourselves in the foot again by having a fumble and an interception, but we hung in there. We played much better on defense. We were really strong there, but we still gave up the long pass.”

With the victory, the Cards break the losing streak at three games, the longest since Albonizio took over the GHS program back in 1997.

“This feels great,” defensive tackle Taulant Bici said. “We worked hard all week and after those three losses that we had, we knew we had to step it up to get this victory. It was an important victory. Those losses crushed us, but we have a good team overall and knew we needed to play better.”

After a turnover on downs during Trinity’s first possession of the game, Big Red got control of the ball at the Greenwich 16 with 5:44 to play in the quarter. After Ryan Pasquali ran up the middle for six yards, GHS quarterback Matt Marzulla stepped back and unloaded a pass down the sideline to senior Austin Longi, who was lined up as a wideout on the play.

Longi caught the ball around midfield and used his speed to dart past the Trinity corners to complete the 79-yard touchdown reception with 4:30 to play in the first quarter.

“They put me at wide receiver and I like that a lot,” Longi said. “That’s what I am going to be doing in college, so it’s nice to get a taste of what I am going to do in the future. I thought doing that brought a lot of efficiency to the offense and we were able to establish a running game with Ryan and Luke (Bienstock). Hopefully doing that will pull a couple of defenders to me and open up the running game.”

Although the Cardinals coughed up the football on its next possession, the defense stepped up its game to help add to the score. Griffin Tiedy was doing his best to disrupt the TCHS offense and quarterback Anthony Lombardi. After Tiedy forced Trinity running back Courtlyn Victrum into the backfield for a huge loss, defense came up big a few plays later.

With nowhere to run on a first down from the Trinity 45, Lombardi was taken down and fumbled the ball. Bici was there, scooped up the pigskin and sprinted down the middle of the field 49 yards for the touchdown and 14-0 lead with 9:30 to play in the half.

“It felt great because I never had a touchdown in my life,” Bici said. “It was a dream come true. One of my teammates caused the fumble and I saw that ball bouncing, so I picked it up. I knew I had to make it in the end zone.”

Big Red got the ball first to start the second half and took advantage immediately. Using a nine-play drive that saw Pasquali carry the ball seven times, Luke Bienstock got the handoff, charged towards the GHS sideline, plowed through several Trinity defenders and found the end zone for the 27-yard touchdown run with 9:23 to play in the third.

In that scoring drive, Pasquali finished with a run of 25 yards up the middle to start the drive and a 12-yard run four plays later.

“This was a huge day for us because we are more determined now to eat through the rest of our schedule and fight for a postseason spot,” Bienstock said. “We are going to try to sneak in those playoffs. Today we had a great team effort. The line won the game for us tonight. We were able to pound the ball all day.

Trinity Catholic found the end zone in its next possession, as Lombardi threw a perfectly timed ball to Randy Polonia for the 24-yard touchdown reception and cut the lead to 21-7 with 5:52 left in the third.

Although the Crusaders grabbed the interception during Greenwich’s next possession, it was once again the GHS defense that stepped up its game to keep Trinity off the scoreboard. Jack Weigold stopped Victrum on a second down and goal and the GHS secondary stopped TCHS on a fourth down and goal to force a turnover on downs.

Feeding off the defense, Greenwich’s offense found the end zone once more. Starting from their own 2-yard line, Greenwich drove the length of the field, courtesy of a 12-yard run from Bienstock, an 11-yarder from Pasquali and a 47-yard spring from Longi.

“I thought we were better up front, both offensively and defensively,” Albonizio said. “The line was able to open up some room for our backs to run.”

The drive was capped when Bienstock ran four yards for the touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter.

“It’s a great feeling to get the victory,” Longi said. “We finally got things clicking today, cut down on mistakes and mental errors. We ran the ball effectively and that’s what we need to do. We need to chew up the clock and pound the ball.”

 

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