Greenwich football soaks in the touchdowns against Central

Greenwich High School's Ryan Pasquali sprints for the end zone during Big Red's 35-6 victory over Central Saturday at Cardinal Stadium. — John Ferris Robben photo

Greenwich High School’s Ryan Pasquali sprints for the end zone during Big Red’s 35-6 victory over Central Saturday at Cardinal Stadium. — John Ferris Robben photo

The rain that poured down on Cardinal Stadium didn’t damper the spirits of the Greenwich High School football team, as the Cardinals scored 28 points in the first half and cruised to a 35-6 victory over Bridgeport Central High School earlier today.

“We played really well today,” Greenwich High School head coach Rich Albonizio said. “Once their quarterback went out, it was tough for them. He’s a really good quarterback. I thought our running game was good and our line did a nice job blocking today. Defensively we shut them out with our first team, but I thought that we could have played better with the quarterback. He was able to get some yards on our defense today. Our pass defense and rush was good.”

Big Red was led by Austin Longi, who finished with 92 yards on 10 carries, while Ryan Pasquali added 78 yards on 10 carries.

The Cardinals came out of the gate flying. Getting the ball first, Greenwich wasted little time finding the end zone. Starting their drive on the Central 48, Longi took the ball seven yards. Up next, Pasquali darted 10 yards before Longi got the handoff again and sprinted 20 yards.

Finally, Longi took the ball one more time and ran the rest of the 16 yards for the touchdown and just like that Greenwich grabbed the 7-0 lead.

Although Big Red ended the quarter with only a 7-0 lead, they quickly added to it in the second quarter. In a drive that started with 40.7 seconds left in the first quarter, Greenwich got the ball on its 18-yard line and had 16 plays on the drive that was highlighted when Luke Bienstock ran four yards for the touchdown with 6:21 left in the half.

Big plays on the drive were when sophomore quarterback Frankie Alfano threw an 11-yard pass in the flat to Longi and two fourth down conversions, including an incredible one handed catch by Walker Manning for 22 yards.

Greenwich High's Walker Manning hauls in a stellar catch on fourth down during Saturday's game against Bridgeport Central. — John Ferris Robben photo

Greenwich High’s Walker Manning hauls in a stellar catch on fourth down during Saturday’s game against Bridgeport Central. — John Ferris Robben photo

Central coughed up the ball on its next possession and it appeared Greenwich would capitalize immediately, as Longi took the handoff on Big Red’s first play on the drive and ran 39 yards for the touchdown  However a holding call against Greenwich erased the touchdown and gave the Cards the ball on the Central.

Despite the penalty, Greenwich found the end zone two plays later. After Longi ran six yards up the middle, Pasquali grabbed the handoff on the next play, busted up the middle, used a key block by Bienstock and darted 23 yards untouched for the touchdown and 21-0 lead with 5:12 left in the half.

“I thought we executed really well and knew the weather was going to be a factor,” Pasquali said. “We knew that we were going to have to run the ball. Our line played really well. We were down a few guys but they opened some holes for us really. I felt great out there, but that’s because of that line that created holes.”

The Cards pushed the ball across the end zone once more in the first half to take the 28-0 lead. Starting on their 47-yard line, Pasquali started the drive with a 10-yard run. After Longi netted 14 yards and was aided with a personal foul call against the Hilltoppers, Alfano called his own number and ducked a few tackles for the 14-yard gain. A play later, he finished the drive with a three-yard touchdown run with 1:55 left in the half for the 28-0 lead.

While there were a lot of positives for Greenwich, one big negative was the loss of senior Matt Marzulla, who broke his collarbone in the first half and will be lost for the remainder of the season.

With the victory, Greenwich earned its fifth consecutive victory and moved up to 5-3 on the season.

“Three more games for us, but we just want to win the next one,” Albonizio said. “Whatever happens, happens. There are a lot of teams that have two losses right now. For us to get into States, it’s going to be tough, but not impossible. The way we started the season, to win five in a row we are very happy right now. We had a lot of problems and went through a bunch adversity.”

“It’s very simple for us,” Pasquali said. “We have to win out. We need to focus in practice hard every time we are out there. We have Westhill next week and need to put this win behind us. We want to win out so we can try to get in States. We are playing better football in the second half of the season. We learned from our mistakes in the first three games.”

Up next for the Cards will be a battle in Stamford against Westhill High School, a team that has been known to give Greenwich all it can handle.

“They are typically always tough against us and I’m sure they will be this time,” Albonizio said. “They are going to home and I know we will be in another dogfight.”

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