TRUMBULL — Leading up to Greenwich’s game against FCIAC football foe Trumbull, Cardinals coach Anthony Morello expressed his desire to see his squad get its running game going, with Hunter Clark figuring in the game plan.
Well, Clark helped the Cardinals pick up their running game and more.
The junior running back rushed for 126 yards and three touchdowns and Greenwich utilized another tenacious defensive effort in upending host Trumbull, 42-7, Friday night.
Junior Kobe Comizio and Jonathan Alexandre each had a touchdown run and Matt Pilc caught a scoring pass from quarterback James Rinello for No. 4 Greenwich, which topped Trumbull at its home field for the first time since 2011.
Clark received the bulk of the carries out of the backfield Friday, after Spencer Hartley, one of the senior captains, tweaked his hamstring early in the game.
“I don’t know if it was part of the game plan that I was going to get a lot of carries, but I knew going into the game, that we were going to be run strong,” Clark said. “I got the call when Spencer Hartley went down with the hamstring injury and I just picked it up from there and played my game.”
After being forced to punt on their first possession, the Cardinals drove 64 yards in five plays to take a 7-0 lead the second time they had the ball.
Hartley began the drive with a 23-yard run, giving GHS a first down at the Trumbull 41-yard line. A 21-yard run up the middle by Clark put the ball on the Eagles’ 22. Clark ran for eight yards on the next play, then dashed 14 yards into the end zone on a running play. Ben Howarth converted the extra point and Greenwich took a 7-0 lead with 2:02 left in the first quarter.
“I knew that I was going to get the call and all the reps in practice helped me a lot,” Clark said.
Following a three-and-out on Trumbull’s next possession, the Cards marched 62 yards in 13 plays to extend their advantage.
The Eagles forced a fourth down at Greenwich’s 47, but the Cardinals kept their drive alive with a fake punt. Junior Vincent Ceci took the snap on the fake punt and ran up the middle for 15 yards, setting Greenwich up at the Trumbull 38.
A 23- yard pass play moved Greenwich to the 4-yard line, and on the ensuing play, Comizio scored on a jet sweep to the left with 6:41 to go in the second quarter.
“It’s a really great design, it gets me outside, gets me in space,” Comizio said of the jet sweep. “Today, our receiver Mason Muir did an amazing job blocking for me on the edge. I just follow the blocking and run in space — it’s an awesome play.”
Trumbull reached Cardinals territory on its first two drives, before it stalled. Junior quarterback Riley Simpson completed a 22-yard pass to senior receiver Kyle Atherton, keeping the drive going. The Eagles’ opening possession ended at the Greenwich 39 with a sack.
On Trumbull’s second possession, Simpson slipped a 20-yard screen pass to junior Mileeq Green, but junior lineman Stephen Sergio sacked Simpson for a 12-yard loss on third down, backing the home team up to their own 40-yard line.
“We made the plays when we had to, we just have to execute a bit better next time,” Simpson said. “We missed out on some big plays. For next week, we have to stick with the passing game and mix in the run and we’ll be fine.”
Clark rushed for 71 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown in the first half for Greenwich.
Simpson completed 5 of 6 passes for 63 yards for the Eagles in the opening half.
The Eagles began the second half by cutting into the Cardinals’ lead. After Simpson completed a 17-yard pass to Dante Valentino, Green took Simpson’s handoff, made a cut and sprinted 44 yards for a touchdown, bringing Trumbull to within 14-7 with 7:04 to go in the third quarter.
However, the Cardinals has quite an impressive answer. It took the Cards just four plays to go 73 yards on the ensuing drive. Comizio had a 19-yard reception, Clark had a 14-yard run, then Clark scored on a 3-yard run. Howarth’s conversion kick made it 21-7 at the 5:10 mark of the second quarter.
Keeping the momentum, Greenwich recovered a Trumbull fumble on the ensuing kickoff, taking over at the Eagles’ 17. The next play, Clark ran it into the end zone, putting the Cards up by three scores.
“We got a little fired up when they scored,” Morello said. “When adversity came knocking and they took a little momentum from us, we responded. We seem to get points in bunches.”
On Greenwich’s next possession, Matthew Pilc caught a 15-yard scoring strike from Rinello, putting the Eagles in a 35-7 hole with 1:28 still left in the third quarter.
“They made some big plays and that’s a credit to them,” Trumbull coach Marce Petroccio said. “As fast as we had the momentum is as fast as we lost it. It just kind of snowballed on us and we couldn’t find a way to stop that from continuing. The good news is we played with these people and the next time, we can’t let things get out of control. We have to get first downs and settle down.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
With Jack Warren sidelined for the game with an injury and Hartley leaving the matchup in the first quarter with a hamstring injury, Clark rose to the occasion.
“We were planning on using Hunter and when his number was called he hits the hole hard and he played great,” Morello said.
Said Clark: “This game is very memorable to me, because I am coming back from an injury as well, I hurt my hamstring.”
With Callum Abernethy and James Schmidt helping to lead the way, Greenwich’s offensive line excelled against a tough Trumbull defensive front. … Ceci intercepted a pass for GHS, which was led defensively by corneback Jason Gussis and defensive lineman Eddy Iuteri.
“We prepared well, coaches always say you play the way you practice,” Gussis said. “It was a great team effort. Our defensive line and linebackers played great.”
GREENWICH 42, TRUMBULL 7
GREENWICH 7 7 21 7 — 42
TRUMBULL 0 0 7 0 — 7
G — Hunter Clark 14 run (Ben Howarth kick)
G — Kobe Comizio 4 run (Howarth kick)
T — Mileeq Green 44 run (Andrew Ilie kick)
G — Clark 3 run (Howarth kick)
G — Clark 17 run (Howarth kick)
G — Matthew Pilc 15 pass from James Rinello (Howarth kick)
G — Jonathan Alexandre 27 run (Howarth kick)