GREENWICH — It wasn’t pretty and, maybe on another night against some other team, Darien’s football team will pay for the sins it committed Friday night against Greenwich.
But the Blue Wave survived. Somehow, they survived and are looking gorgeous atop the standings after a 33-26 victory at Cardinal Stadium.
Darien survived some magic from Greenwich senior all-state back Austin Longi. It survived a late Greenwich touchdown that tied the game with five minutes left.
More importantly, Darien survived itself. The Wave committed five turnovers, one of which was returned for a touchdown, but somehow got out of town 2-0.
“Like I told the team a win is a win. I get it,” Darien coach Rob Trifone said. “But, when’s the real Blue Wave going to step up and put a team away.”
After spending the majority of the game clawing back from a first-half deficit, Darien finally looked as if it would do that in the fourth quarter.
Stephen Walker kicked a 29-yard field goal to give Darien a 20-18 lead, its first since the second quarter. Then back Shelby Grant busted loose for a 43-yard touchdown run to make it 26-18. Walker’s extra point, however, was no good, keeping it a one score game.
To that point, Greenwich, which fell to 0-2, hadn’t done a thing offensively except score on a pair of screen passes from 57 and 35 yards out that Longi somehow took for touchdowns the second quarter.
“Longi’s a hell of a player,” Darien senior end George Reed said. “We keyed on him all week, and he still came out here and made plays. He’s one of the best players in the state.”
Greenwich’s only other touchdown was an 18-yard fumble recovery return by Joey Longo which was produced by Scooter Harrington’s jarring sack of Darien quarterback Timmy Graham in the first quarter.
Now trailing by eight, the Cards had one more big play left in its back pocket.
Matt Marzulla threw a an 80-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Ferraro on a hitch-and-go that beat Trifone’s son, Bobby, to pull Greenwich within two. Ryan Pasquali apparently squeaked the ball over the goal line on the two point conversion. Referees initially signaled that the play had failed. But after conferring, they reversed course and the game was tied at 26.
“He had him covered even after the hitch-and-go,” Trifone said of his son. “And then he kind of got lost in space a little bit. He knows. …He’ll never let it happen again.”
After the teams traded possessions, Darien got the break it needed to finally salt this one away in regulation. Colin Minicus caught a short slant and ran 50 yards to the Greenwich 13. That set up Grant’s winning 13-yard run with 2:15 remaining.
“You take away those turnovers and we probably could have won more convincingly and not given me agita,” Trifone said. “They were one play away from either winning the game or tying the game.”
Defensive back Tyler Grant secured the victory by making his second interception of the game. Darien’s defense forced four turnovers, itself. There were nine total.
“It’s a feeling of relief. You can’t be too happy with this,” Darien senior George Reed said. “You have to enjoy it… But we definitely escaped one hostile environment. And the only thing that really matters is we got a win.”
|Darien 33, Greenwich 26||1||2||3||4||F|
|No. 4 DARIEN||7||10||0||16||—||33|
G—Joey Longo 18 fumble recovery return (kick failed)
D—Peter Archey 8 run (Stephen Walker kick)
G—Austin Longi 57 run (pass failed)
D—Colin Minicus 35 pass from Tim Graham (Walker kick)
G—Longi 36 pass from Marzulla (run failed)
D—Walker 29 field goal
D—Walker 25 field goal
D—Shelby Grant 43 run (kick failed)
G—Anthony Ferraro 80 pass from Marzulla (Ryan Pasquali run)
D—Grant 13 run (Walker kick)
Records: Darien 2-0 Greenwich 0-2