FAIRFIELD — For a moment Edward Iuteri began to doubt himself. The senior defensive lineman had gone through almost his entire Greenwich football career without an interception, let alone running with the ball in open space.
But there he found himself in the proverbial right place at the right time late in the second half against Fairfield Ludlowe after a pass from Falcons’ quarterback Quinn Pavoz was deflected at the line of scrimmage. The ball hung in the air and floated into the grasp of Iuteri, who ran about 10 yards before being taken out of bounds in the Cardinals eventual 58-0 victory Friday night at Taft Field.
“I was pretty nervous under the ball, I thought I was going to drop it and tried to run it back … unfortunately I had to run out of bounds,” Iuteri said. “I was really tired because we had to go back on the field because of a personal foul after a punt. I ran back on the field. I got the pick and I was exhausted by the time I got off the field.”
The Greenwich (7-1) defense had good reason to be tired, in particular three of its senior captains: Iuteri, Spencer Hartley and Evan Weigold. Hartley added a second quarter interception, while Weigold returned a fumble 58 yards late in the fourth for a touchdown.
“Those are our three healthy captains right now and they do so much at practice, so much behind the scenes,” Greenwich coach Anthony Morello said. “They do so much communication. They’re the guys in-between the coaches and the players.”
The Cardinals’ defense also logged a first quarter strip sack, recovered by William Montesi and a second-half safety.
The Greenwich offense took care of the rest.
AJ Barber scored three first-half touchdowns, including an impressive juke-cut in the second quarter on a 34-yard pass from James Rinello. Rinello threw four touchdowns — all in the first half — as the Cardinals led 42-0 at the break.
Iuteri’s interception, seconds before halftime, appeared to excite the entire Greenwich sideline.
“It was fun to watch,” Rinello said. “You don’t see a lineman running with the ball too much.”
Greenwich turns its attention toward next Saturday’s home game against Ridgefield, which carries massive Class LL playoff ramifications for both teams.
“Every game for us from now on is a playoff game,” Morello said. “It doesn’t matter who the opponent is right now, it’s a playoff game and we have to keep on winning.”
Ludlowe fell to 5-3 and will try to end its season on a high note with remaining games against Danbury and Fairfield Warde.
All night the Falcons struggled to get anything going offensively. The Greenwich defense swarmed Ludlowe’s talented receiving corps and left standout senior James Bourque little room to operate.
“We’re just not at that level yet,” Ludlowe coach Mitchell Ross said. “We have work to do. We have a senior class of 13, they probably have a senior class of 53, 83.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
AJ Barber, Greenwich. The junior finished with three first-half touchdowns, including two of James Rinello’s four touchdown passes.
“You don’t see numbers in the 50s or 60s getting inceptions too often. I’m really happy for Eddie, nobody deserved that more. You could see by the kids’ excitement. I’m proud of the kid.” — Greenwich coach Anthony Morello on senior defensive lineman Edward Iuteri’s first career interception.