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Turnovers and penalties were two things St. Joseph High football coach Joe Della Vecchia knew his team couldn’t afford, if the Cadets were going to defeat Darien High in an FCIAC road game between a pair of state-ranked teams on Oct. 2.

St. Joseph took a 17-0 lead in the third quarter, as Darien committed four turnovers, but then gave the lead and ultimately the game back with three straight giveaways of its own.

St. Joseph (3-1) will play at Wilton High (3-1) Friday at 6 p.m. Darien (4-0) will host Fairfield Warde (2-2) on Saturday at 2.

Darien scored on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Tim Graham to Colin Minicus on the third play of the fourth quarter to take the 21-17 lead.

St. Joseph then drove twice inside Darien territory, but gave up the ball on a fumble at the 14-yard line with 5:31 remaining and lost the ball on downs at the 36 with one minute on the clock.

The Cadets took a 7-0 lead on Kevin Trefz’ 13-yard touchdown pass to Lars Pedersen and Marc Mrozek’s conversion kick at the 6:52 mark of the first period. The 32-yard march was set up by Buddy Wade’s fumble recovery.

Darien had been stopped by a K’tory Cobb interception on the Cadets’ 10-yard line late in the first period, and St. Joseph made it 10-0 with 2:51 left in the first half on Mrozek’s 24-yard field goal.

The Blue Wave got the kickoff to start the second half trailing 10-0, and Matt Lavaneziana recovered a Darien fumble at midfield on the third play of the third quarter.

The Darien defense got the ball back, but the Cadets held and after a punt took possession on the Blue Wave 45.

Mufasha Abdul Basir scored from 21 yards out with 5:44 remaining in the third quarter. The drive was helped by a 15-yard helmet-to-helmet flag on Darien after Seamus Keating caught a five-yard pass.

Darien put is best drive of the game together on its next series, as it marched 61 yards in 10 plays before Peter Archey scored on a 5-yard run.

Hudson Hamill’s interception on St. Joseph’s second-down play gave the Blue Wave the ball back on the Cadet 33.

Off play action, Graham threw a perfect pass to the tightly covered Todd Herget, who made the tough catch in the end zone for a 33-yard touchdown. Stephen Walker’s second of three PAT’s brought the score to 17-14 with 22 seconds still left in the third quarter.

On the second play of the final period, Hamill recovered a Cadet fumble on the St. Joseph 37.

Two plays later, Graham connected with Minicus for the go-ahead score.

Abdul Basir brought the ball deep into Blue Wave territory with a 21-yard run only to see a holding penalty bring the ball back.

A late hit on Trefz tacked 15 yards to a 12-yard Abdul Basir run and St. Joseph had a first down at the Darien 37.

Three runs netted seven yards, before Patrick Battista caught a bubble pass and bulled his way forward to move the chains to the 26.

On fourth-and-a-football from the 17, Trefz went under center for the first time in the game and kept the ball for a first down at the 14.

Abdul Basir got the next carry, but the ball came loose and Darien’s Mark Evanchick recovered on the 13 with 5:31 remaining.

The Cadets got the ball back at their 40 with 3:08 remaining. Pedersen made a fine catch in coverage to the Darien 45 and Trefz ran to the 39.

Pedersen’s diving catch brought the ball to the 29. Trefz then pump-faked and Pedersen used a double move, but the Blue Wave’s Evanchick sacked Trefz for a 7-yard loss.

Pedersen made a great reception inside the Darien 10 on the next play, but it was ruled the catch was made out of bounds.

On fourth-and-7, Trefz looked for Pedersen in double coverage at the 13 and the throw was incomplete.