Cadets edged by Rams, 27-21
The St. Joseph High football team took a 21-12 lead into the half only to have New Canaan rally back to score a 27-21 FCIAC victory at the Dalling Sports Complex on Saturday.
The Rams (5-1) took the game’s final lead when Cole Harris returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown, and Nick Cascione completed the two-point conversion pass to Graham Wagner with 9:47 left to play.
The Cadets lost starting quarterback Jordan Vazzano to an injury the series before the New Canaan INT return, but St. Joseph had three more chances with the ball, only to be stopped on downs at the Rams’ 35 (with 4:40 to play) and 45 (with 2:33 remaining).
“Give credit to them, but we definitely gave this one away,” Cadet coach Joe Della Vecchia said after his team dropped to 4-2.
“I thought we gave them two [a 29-yarder from Cascione to a wide-open Mike DiCosmo in the second quarter] and we didn’t execute our plays correctly or run the right routes.
“We didn’t do a good job of playing smart football today and they took advantage.”
St. Joseph went in front 7-0 midway through the first period on Mike Pulaski’s one-yard run and Jake Pelletier’s conversion kick.
Vazzano completed passes of 28 yards to Pelletier and 28 yards to Mark Hirschbeck to set up the score.
After a botched fair catch of a Ram punt gave New Canaan the ball at the Cadet’s 13-yard line, Cascione scrambled in from 10 yards out.
Jon Prutting blocked the PAT to keep the score at 7-6 with 21.3 seconds left in the opening stanza.
Kyron Crawford ran for a tough nine yards to move the chains on St. Joseph’s next possession, before Vazzano ran for 14 yards and Mufasa Abdul-Basir 17 to the New Canaan 15.
On third down, Vazzano found Pelletier open for 14 yards to the one, where Pulaski dove over for a 14-6 lead after Pelletier’s PAT at the 8:44 mark of the second period.
The Rams’ 29-yard scoring pass made it 14-12, but St. Joseph answered with a 66-yard, nine-play drive that concluded with Pat Boyle sneaking over from a yard out.
Pelletier’s PAT gave St. Joseph a 21-12 lead at the 1:31 mark, which it carried into the half.
“All I could think of at halftime was all the things I was going to say to you guys [the media] about why we lost this game,” New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said.
“I was also probably going to wring some necks on our sideline, but then the team grew up.
“We needed to struggle against a good football team and that [St. Joseph] is a tremendous football team.
“Hopefully, today we came of age.”
The third quarter was marked by too many penalties and turnovers that led nowhere, until Harris’ pick six gave New Canaan the lead.
The Rams’ took possession on their 16 with 4:41 left in the third and embarked on a 10-play drive that featured the elusive Cascione making life miserable for the Cadets
A 20-yard compleion to Louis Hagopian was followed by an eight-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Minaglia.
Neal Koller’s PAT made it 21-19 with 2:09 left in the third and it was game on