Pedersen carries Cadets past Crusaders

Lars Pedersen scored four touchdowns and the St. Joseph High defense played a stellar four quarters of football to provide head coach Joe Della Vecchia with his 100th career win at the school, as the Cadets defeated Trinity Catholic from Stamford, 43-8, at the Dalling Sports Complex on Oct. 25.

St. Joseph moved to 6-1 with the FCIAC win, while Trinity Catholic falls to 4-3. The Cadets, ranked sixth in the state writer’s poll, will host No. 3 New Canaan on Saturday at 1:30. It will match up last year’s FCIAC finalists from a year ago. New Canaan won, 31-20.

Pedersen took the first snap from center and ran 65 yards and then caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Cory Babineau.

Marc Mrozek added the first of his six conversion kicks to polish off St. Joseph’s first possession.

Mike Jones, who led a strong performance by the defensive line, recovered a Trinity Catholic fumble at the 40, but the Crusaders’ Courtlyn Victrum intercepted a pass in the end zone on the next play from scrimmage.

Pedersen, who took turns taking center snaps with Babineau, ran 50 yards for a score on a quarterback read play to up the lead to 13-0 with 3:59 left in the opening period.

St. Joseph controlled the line of scrimmage against the Crusaders, behind the blocking by Chris Taylor, Troy Vazzano, Tim Beyer, Konrad Piszczatowski and Marc Bernatchez.

Trinity Catholic completed an 80-yard drive that carried into the second quarter when Anthony Lombardi scrambled into the end zone from 17 yards out. Tom Castigan caught the two-point conversion pass to bring the score to 13-8 with 11:19 remaining in the first half.

That would be the only time the Crusaders would find paydirt, as Buddy Wade had three quarterback sacks, Jones three tackles for losses, and Cameron Ryan, Nick Colucci and Jake Smith had double figures in tackles.

Late in the first half, Mufasha Abdul Basir had a 48-yard run to bring the ball to midfield. Four plays later Babineau showed patience as he surveyed the field before throwing a 25-yard touchdown strike to Pedersen with 47.4 seconds left in the half.

On Trinity Catholic’s first series of the third quarter, Mrozek blocked a punt, and the ball rolled out of the end zone for a two-point safety.

Pedersen returned the free kick 25 yards to the Crusaders’ 36-yard line.

Abdul Basir and Pedersen had the carries around a key third-down reception by Seamus Keating before Pedersen scored on a 2-yard run. Mrozek’s PAT gave St. Joseph a 29-8 lead, which they carried into the final period.

Tackles for losses by Abdul Basir, Warde, Smith and Piszczatowski forced a Crusader punt from their 4-yard line.

Abdul Basir broke off a 31-yard touchdown run three plays later with 10:40 to play.

With nothing to lose, Trinity Catholic went for it on fourth-and-11 from its 39 only to be stopped by Ryan, Colucci and Smith.

Pedersen and Abdul Basir, with a 3-yard run by Pat Battista thrown into the mix, moved the ball to the five, where Abdul Basir scored on a well-blocked counter play.

Nick Osborne played well on defense for the Cadets when reserves for both teams played out the final 3:29.