NORWALK — Jack Wallace introduced himself to Brien McMahon, and the FCIAC football world as a whole, when St. Joseph’s junior quarterback passed for five first-half touchdowns in the Cadets’ 45-0 victory over the Senators at Jack Casagrande Field on Friday night.
Wallace, making his first start, completed 7-of-9 passes for 232 yards in just over one half of play.
“We have athletes everywhere, and a great offensive line,” said Wallace, who connected on 6-of-8 throws for 198 yards and four scores in the opening quarter. “My job is to get the ball to JRock (Jaden Shirden), Owen (DaSilva), Brady (Hutchison), Will (Diamantis) and Austin (Jose).”
Hutchison finished with three receptions for 130 yards and three touchdowns.
“Jack looked great,” Hutchison said. “Freshman year, he was my quarterback. Now we are juniors and playing the same positions.”
St. Joseph coach Joe Della Vecchia has led his team to consecutive state championships with the help of quarterback David Summers, now at Syracuse. St. Joseph is ranked second in the GameTimeCT.com preseason Top 10 poll.
“I thought after the first few plays, we began to play,” he said. “Our defense was solid. This wasn’t a scrimmage, it was a game. Jack was thrown into the fire and was very composed.”
On their first four snaps, the Hogs had two illegal procedure penalties.
They faced a 3rd-and-20 from the 14 when Wallace dropped back and dropped a pass into Hutchison’s arms at midfield. Hutchison sprinted the rest of the way.
“The preseason seems to take forever,” said Hutchison, who broke an arm before last season’s opener and didn’t play until later in the season. “I wanted the Friday Night Lights to come on. There is nothing like it.”
Jose’s first of seven consecutive conversion kicks made it 7-0 only 59 seconds into the game.
After McMahon went three-and-out for the second time, Wallace went back to work. Five plays into the drive, he rolled left and found Hutchison open in the end zone from 26 yards out.
McMahon quarterback Patrick Coulter, running backs Schneider Sauveur, Shamar Miller and Jermayne Daniel led the attack for coach Jeff Queiroga’s club on their next possession. After moving the chains, the Senators punted it away.
DaSilva caught a Wallace pass crossing the field and went 56 yards on the Cadets’ first play from scrimmage. Jose, who continually denied McMahon an opportunity to return his kickoffs by booming them into the end zone, converted.
Nick Pelaccia recovered a McMahon fumble — Wallace connected with Hutchison for an 18-yard TD — and it was 28-0 after one period.
St. Joseph’s last two touchdowns of the quarter came in the final 34 seconds.
“I said to the guys that we have eight new starters on defense,” Queiroga said. “We don’t make excuses, but there was a great crowd here and they were playing a state champion. They were thrown into the Lions Den. Varsity is a different speed, a different animal. We’ll watch film and correct our mistakes. We need to execute better.”
The Hogs’ defense, led by Pelaccia, Mike Morrissey, Jermaine Williams and Cayden Porter up front, forced long down and distance before Justin Williams intercepted a pass at the Senators 27 two minutes into the second period.
McMahon’s Brian Ehlers had a sack to force St. Joseph to forego a shot at a touchdown and settle for Jose’s 30-yard field goal.
After a Morrissey sack, Wallace found Shirden in the flat and the fleet-footed senior ran to the pylon, where he went head-and-heels over a defender to complete a 34-yard score.
The second half was played with a running clock.
A bobbled punt attempt by the Senators was recovered by St. Joe’s Maxwell Warren at the 1. Two plays later, Shirden ran it in to complete the scoring with six minutes left in the third.
QUEEN KNOCKS THEM DEAD
Brien McMahon’s marching band played a tribute to the music group Queen at halftime with the large contingent of St. Joseph students in the bleachers singing along. They saluted each other when the music stopped.