NORWALK —As the temperature dipped below freezing Friday night, the Ridgefield football team compensated by turning on the after-burners.
With four of its touchdowns coming on plays of 31 yards or longer, the Tigers, ranked ninth in the GameTimeCT Top 10 poll, blasted Brien McMahon, 48-0, at Jack Casagrande Field.
“Big plays,” said Ridgefield coach Kevin Callahan, whose ninth-ranked team improved to 7-1. “Take away those and it’s a nip-and-tuck, push-and-shove game.
“The score was somewhat deceiving,” Callahan added. “McMahon was a handful; those kids played a really physical game right down to the end.”
McMahon (2-6) was unable to score despite having six possessions that went into Ridgefield’s side of the field. The most frustrating of those came late in the first quarter, after the Tigers had taken a 7-0 lead on Kai Prohaszka’s 65-yard touchdown run and Adam Biernat’s extra point.
One of several nice kickoff returns by Arthur Coccia gave McMahon the ball at midfield. Five plays later, the Senators had a first down at the Ridgefield 18 following fullback Jermayne Daniel’s 10-yard rumble. But on the first play of the second quarter, the Senators fumbled and Ridgefield recovered at its own 16.
Prohaszka then struck again, getting a hand-off from Owen Matthews and sprinting through the middle of the McMahon defense for an 84-yard touchdown run and a 14-0 advantage.
The two long scoring runs were part of Prohaszka’s impressive opening half, as he carried the ball six times for 173 yards.
“We executed on the blocks; my line is just amazing,” Prohaszka said. “The hole was just humongous [on the second touchdown]. On the first touchdown I had J.D. [Jack Dowd], a lineman, out there blocking in front and he really helped.”
By halftime the Tigers were up 21-0, after Matthews hit Owen Gaydos on a 5-yard TD pass with 32 seconds left before the break.
It took Ridgefield two plays to add more points in the third quarter. Biernat’s second-half kickoff was a cleverly designed and perfectly executed onside kick that the Tigers easily recovered at the McMahon 49. On the next snap, backup quarterback Declan McNamara (who alternated with Matthews in the second half) threw a pass to Gaydos, who stiff-armed a McMahon defender and raced into the end zone.
When Ridgefield got the ball back it drove from its own 24 down to the McMahon 20 on four completions from McNamara (two to Max Bornstein and two to Nick Agliardo). McNamara then lofted a sky ball into the back of the end zone, where Gaydos made a nice leaping catch for the touchdown.
“Declan led us on a really nice drive in the third quarter; we were able to come back from some long [yardage] situations due to penalties and that was good work for us,” Callahan said.
Danny Moroney’s 11-yard run put the Tigers ahead 41-0, sending the game to a running clock for the final quarter.
A 27-yard pass from quarterback Patrick Coulter to Matt Claps got McMahon to Ridgefield’s 30 before Moroney forced a fumble that Gaydos recovered for the Tigers. Following several completions, Xander Scavone broke free for a 31-yard touchdown run to end the scoring with 6:04 remaining in the game.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Kai Prohaszka, Ridgefield. The sophomore running back ran for 173 yards and scored two long touchdowns to help the Tigers open a 21-0 halftime lead.
“The next two weeks will define our season. We have to be sharp … we have to play our best games of the season.” — Ridgefield coach Kevin Callahan, discussing his team’s final regular-season games against Greenwich and Danbury.