The St. Joseph High football team met the challenge head on and handily disposed of Trinity Catholic from Stamford, 49-14, in an FCIAC showdown with state playoff implications at Bunnell Field in Stratford on Thursday night.

Coach Joe Della Vecchia’s Cadets improved to 7-2, and with a win over Trumbull High on Thanksgiving Eve, will likely clinch a Class M playoff berth.

“I thought we could run the ball on them,,” said Della Vecchia, whose club ground out 330 rushing yards and nearly 600 yards of offense on the 7-1 Crusaders.

“I didn’t really think they could stop us on offense. They were so deep in coverage we said ‘let’s go at them.’”

The offensive line of Robert Roehrich, Nick DelBuono, Tom Adzima, Peter Mestre and Steve Hashemi received an ovation from the Cadet faithful when they were relieved of duty with three minutes remaining.

Jake Pelletier, who scored running, receiving and throwing the ball, was proud of his team.

“We came out with the mindset we had to get this win, and everything was perfect,” said Pelletier, who also drilled all seven of his conversion kicks.

“Our offensive line was fantastic. Mufasa [Abdul-Basir] was great. Everything was just right tonight.”

Abdul-Basir (19-yard run) Kyron Crawford (a pair of 5-yard runs) and quarterback Jordan Vazzano had the bulk of the carries, and the Cadets’ Lars Pedersen recovered a fumble forced by Dylan Ryan and had an interception.

Abdul-Basir’s most important moment came when he chased down Nemo Merritt inside the Cadets’ 15-yard line after the Crusader intercepted a pass on the goal line and was en route to a 100-yard score as the horn sounded to end the first half.

St. Joseph had a 14-0 lead in the first quarter when Merritt returned a kickoff 96 yards to take away some of the momentum.

The rivals exchanged scores before Vazzano threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Pelletier with 1:45 left in the opening half.

Mike Pulaski scored on a six-yard pass in the third quarter, before Pelletier threw a 62-yard scoring pass to Denzel Moscova on a double-toss play for a 42-14 lead after three quarters.

See the next edition of the Times for complete game story.