Greenwich High football falls to Xavier in class LL quarters, 55-14

Greenwich High School’s return to the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference class LL tournament didn’t go as planned earlier this evening at Middletown’s Palmer Field, as No. 3 seeded Xavier High School took a 27-14 halftime lead and beat Big Red 55-14.

“We had a couple of opportunities,” said Greenwich High head coach Rich Albonizio. “But we fumbled and gave up a two or three scores that we could have had. We can’t do that against a great team like them. Physically they were bigger and stronger than us. We are a little bit smaller and not as physical.”

The Falcons came out of the gates flying, as the duo of senior quarterback Tim Boyle and senior running back DeAngelo Berry helped Xavier grab a 13-0 lead heading into the second quarter.

However it didn’t take GHS long to respond in the second frame. One play in, and on the Greenwich 33, Big Red sophomore Austin Longi took the handoff sprinted towards the Xavier sideline and darted past the XHS defense for the 67 yard touchdown.

Xavier would reclaim the two-touchdown lead with 6:27 left in the half, as Boyle found senior Kristopher Luster in the end zone for the 18-yard completion.

Again, when it looked like the Falcons were taking over momentum, Longi stepped up to make a big play. On the ensuing kickoff, Longi grabbed the ball at the Greenwich 15 and sprinted 59 yards on the return. Keyed by a senior Mark Bernstein 13-yard completion down the GHS sideline, Greenwich found the end zone in dramatic fashion with 1:57 to play in the half.

On fourth down and goal at the Xavier 3, Longi juggled the direct snap, regained control, spun around several Xavier defenders and crossed the goal line for the touchdown and cut the deficit to 20-14.

“Our offense wasn’t really clicking too well early and I had to spark a couple of big plays,” Longi said. “I tried to do as much as possible for the team. Xavier figured out how to stop it, but our seniors tried their hardest to get things going again. It’s tough to go out like this.”

However, that’s all the scoring Big Red would do the rest of the night. Xavier took control of the momentum to end the half, as Boyle stepped back and unloaded a missile strike to Luster in stride and he ran the rest of the way up the middle of the field for the 44-yard touchdown with 46 seconds to play in the half.

“Their quarterback has a rifle,” Albonizio said. “We tried every coverage that we had. He’s going to Boston College for a reason.”

The difference in the first half was the passing game, as Xavier had 129 yards in the air, while Big Red only had 68 yards. Xavier’s defense also came up big in the half, as Greenwich was only able to gain 72 yards on the ground.

The back-breaker for the Cardinals happened to start the third quarter. After successfully converting on the onside kick to regain control of the ball, Big Red was driving down the field, as senior Joe Kelly netted a 10-yard reception and fellow senior Alex McMurray ran nine yards up the middle and advanced the ball to the Xavier 6.

However, Greenwich fumbled the ball on the next play and Xavier gained control. Highlighted by two Boyle to Luster 34- and 28-yard completions on two separate third downs, the Falcons scored on a one-yard Andrew Meoli run with 6:22 left.

Xavier then took a place out of the GHS playbook and successfully converted an onside kick. Four plays later, another Falcons touchdown made the score 41-14.

“We came out and played very physical, particularly in our offensive line,” Xavier head coach Sean Marinan said. “We controlled the game and got our running game going. We needed to play physically throughout the game and we did in my opinion. Greenwich kept on fighting back, but our offense was able to move the ball.”

With the loss, Greenwich ended its season with an 8-2 record. For more on the game, including more stats and quotes, check out tomorrow’s

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