Greenwich High football falls to Staples in FCIAC championship game

Although the Greenwich High School football team used a dominating third quarter to cut its deficit to only four, Staples High School was able to pull away late and come away with the 48-30 victory earlier today at Cardinal Stadium.

“We got caught with a couple of starters off the field at times and they took advantage of it,” Greenwich High School head coach Rich Albonizio said. “Staples is hard to stop. They could throw the ball, they could option and they are big up front. We wanted to wear them down a little bit. I thought we had the momentum and I thought they were struggling a little bit, but they are a good team and took advantage of our mistakes.”

Trailing 34-14 at the break, Big Red mounted a huge comeback to get with four points with one quarter still to play.

Keyed by a Alex McMurray 11 yard run and a 23-yard reverse by Joe Kelly, Big Red found the end zone when McMurray scored on the one-yard run with 9:14 to play in the third.

After Staples was unable to do anything on its first drive of the half, Vincent Ferraro took the punt and ran it back to the Staples 7. Although Greenwich was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct at the end of the play, Big Red found the end zone again when McMurray scored his second of the half on a 4-yard run to make the score 34-28.

The Cards got another two points via a safety on Staples’ next possession, as the Wreckers, who were deep in their side of the field, snapped the ball high on a punt attempt and the ball sailed into the back of the end zone.

“I am proud that we were able to come back, but I am also upset that we fell behind like that,” Albonizio said. “We should have made the adjustments earlier.”

However, with their backs to the wall, the Wreckers responded in a big way. Facing a fourth down and inches on Greenwich 46, head coach Marce Petroccio decided to go for it.

That’s when Joey Zelkowitz took the handoff ran to the right, cut to the middle of the field and sprinted 46 yards for the back-breaking touchdown.

“If we want to be a championship team and do the things we want to do, when it’s fourth and one with the ball on the 45, we need to get that first down,” Petroccio said. “That was the nail in the coffin I think.”

Zelkowitz had a game to remember, shattering the FCIAC rushing record and finishing with 317 yards.

With the loss, Greenwich fell to 8-1 on the season, but the season is far from finished. On Tuesday, Big Red will enter the CIAC class LL postseason as the No. 6 seed and will battle Xavier High School at Middletown’s Palmer Field.

To read more on the game, check back here later this evening.

 

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