The New Canaan Rams defeated the St. Joseph Cadets, 31-20, in the 48th renewal of the FCIAC football championship game held at McDougall Stadium in Trumbull on Friday night.

Coach Lou Marinelli’s team improved to a perfect 11-0, while coach Joe Della Vecchia’s club dipped to 9-2, with both losses coming to New Canaan.

“I felt good about what we did in the first half,” Della Vecchia said. “I thought we dominated the first twenty-four minutes, but the reality was a 14-14 tie.”

New Canaan took a 7-0 lead after its first play from scrimmage was good for a 76-yard touchdown pass from Nick Cascione to Kyle Smith. Peter Swindell added the PAT with 7:39 remaining.

St. Joseph tied the game at 7 on the first play of the second quarter on Jordan Vazzano’s eight-yard bullet pass to Lars Pederson and Kevin Bortnick’s conversion kick.

The Rams regained the lead on Frank Cognetta’s eight-yard run midway through the period.

It looked as though the lead would hold up until the half, but in the final minute Vazzano connected with Shane Miller for a 79-yard gain to the New Canaan six-yard line.

On the next play, Vazzano found Mark Hirschbeck on a slant pattern for the score. Bortnick’s PAT tied the game at 14 with 18.1 seconds left before intermission.

All that momentum didn’t result in a jump start for St.Joseph, which was limited in its offense success in the final two quarters.

New Canaan went in front on Cascione’s one-yard run, two plays after Mike DiCosmo intercepted a pass on the 35 and returned it to the Cadets’ six.

Swindell’s PAT made it 21-14 Rams at the 3:40 mark of the third quarter.

St. Joseph could never gets its passing game going in the second half. The Rams in turn, used their ability to run the ball and move the chains to dominate time of possession.

Swindell kicked a 32-yard field goal to boost New Canaan’s lead to 24-14 with 8:29 remaining in the game.

Cascione scored from the six with 4:08 left, before the Cadets’ Mufasa Abdul-Basir found pay dirt from 50 yards out with 3:36 on the clock.

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