WESTPORT — Against a backdrop of rain, it was exactly as advertised.
Two talented FCIAC football teams battling valiantly over 48 minutes.
In a contest where the big moments and the little things count the most, the St. Joseph football team prevailed 17-14 over Staples High Friday night at the Wreckers Stadium.
The victory left St. Joseph — now 7-1 and No. 5 in the GameTime CT state football poll — in sole possession of second place in the FCIAC East behind Darien (8-0). Staples, now third in the East, falls to 6-2.
“Our team proved what our coaching staff already knew,” St. Joseph’s veteran coach Joe Della Vecchia said. “They have boundless heart, passion and character. We aren’t the biggest or strongest team in the world. Especially standing next to Staples. But we play every single play.”
DEFENSE FINISHED THE JOB FOR ST. JOSEPH
St. Joseph led 10-7 at halftime thanks to Luke Kirby’s 34-yard field goal and 17-7 midway through the third quarter.
Staples scored in the final minute of the third quarter for 17-14.
It was St. Joseph’s defense that took center-stage the rest of the way.
Staples had three offensive possessions in the fourth quarter to try to tie or go ahead. St. Joseph’s defense wrecked all three.
“We put in the work in practice. It’s about having solid fundamentals,” said St. Joseph junior defensive lineman Jermaine Williams, who had one of the Cadets’ four sacks on the evening.
“Because Staples is so physical, we played with extra emotion. We held together as a group. We want to make all the steps to get to December football.”
An interception by junior Noah Gage put St. Joseph in business at the Staples 30. That led to Jaden Shirden’s 17-yard touchdown run for 17-7.
Gage was filling in for St. Joseph captain Ace Luzietti, who was a late scratch out injured.
SHIRDEN DID THE HEAVY LIFTING
It was not a night for the passing game.
St. Joseph quarterback David Summers completed 9 of 19 passes for 62 yards. Senior Phil Pasmeg, in his first game back after spending the last six games on the sidelines with a shoulder injury, had a 21-yard TD reception.
A Henry Engels interception in the last minute before halftime stopped a Cadet drive at the Staples 7.
Staples quarterback Jake Thaw completed 7 of 20 passes for 89 yards with four sacks and Gage’s interception.
St. Joseph burned time off the clock through the work of Shirden. The 5-foot-9, 175-pound running back had 27 carries for 172 yards.
“I knew it would be a hard night running in the rain against this Staples defense,” Shirden said. “I was determined that no one was going to stop me. I did my part after watching our superb defense. We don’t win without them.”
NO REGRETS FOR STAPLES
The Wreckers did hurt themselves too many times with penalties. But they never stopped fighting.
Cameron Lynch had a 18-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter. QB Thaw (20 carries, 103 yards) capped an 83-yard march with a four-yard scoring run and dive at the pylon in the third quarter.
Running back Tim Luciano amassed 52 yards rushing on 17 carries.
ST. JOSEPH 17, STAPLES 14
ST. JOSEPH 7 3 7 0—17
STAPLES 7 0 7 0—14
- Stap—Cameron Lynch 18 pass from Jake Thaw (Bradley Cox kick) 8:16 left
- StJ—Phil Pasmeg 21 pass from David Summers (Luke Kirby kick) 1:57 left
- StJ—Luke Kirby 34 field goal 4:05 left
- StJ—Jaden Shirden 17 run (Kirby kick) 5:02 left
- Stap—Thaw 4 run (Cox kick) :45 second left
Records: St. Joseph 7-1, Staples 6-2.