TRUMBULL >> Each time Notre Dame-West Haven crept back into the game, there was St. Joseph’s Lars Pedersen to thwart the rally.
After a Green Knights touchdown tied the game late in the first half, St. Joseph drove 80 yards and scored on a 35-yard pass to Pedersen from Jordan Vazzano to give the Hogs the lead for good.
For insurance, Pedersen returned the second half kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown and caught another touchdown pass from Vazzano later in the quarter.
Pedersen’s performance helped lead the No. 8 Hogs to a 47-28 victory over Notre Dame Saturday in a contest part of the SCC/FCIAC Challenge.
The touchdown catch at the end of the second quarter gave St. Joseph a 21-14 lead heading into the intermission.
“When we went into half, we weren’t satisfied by only being up by one touchdown,” Pedersen said. “I made the catch, got up field; great blocks by our kickoff return team. It wouldn’t have been set up without them.”
Pedersen finished with fives catches for 92 yards.
Notre Dame running back Cam Tucker scored on a 71-yard touchdown run on the ensuing possession after Pedersen’s kickoff return to cut the lead to 27-20, but Pedersen’s 9-yard touchdown reception put the Hogs up by two scores heading into the fourth quarter.
“(Pedersen) is a terrific player,” St. Joseph coach Joe Della Vecchia said. “He’s a three-year starter and he can make big plays on both sides of the ball and obviously on special teams.”
Those big plays by Pedersen proved costly to pesky Notre Dame, which battled to the final whistle.
“Our kids didn’t back down,” Notre Dame coach Tom Marcucci said. “I thought we played hard, physical football. We had a chance, we just gave up big plays. We had some inexperience that we have to overcome. I’m proud of the way the guys played. We could’ve won this game but we had too many long plays and too many penalties.”
Vazzano connected with Mark Hirschbeck on a 49-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to give the Hogs a 7-0 lead. Notre Dame, though, responded, when Tucker scored on an 8-yard run to tie the game.
The teams then traded touchdowns in the second quarter. Mufasa Abdul-Basir (14 carries, 119 yards) scored on an 11-yard run for St. Joseph and then Tucker bullied his way for a 2-yard score to tie the game at 14.
Tucker, who also scored on a 3-yard run in the fourth quarter, finished with 28 carries for 242 yards and four scores.
“Tucker is a man,” Marcucci said. “Tucker is as good a back as there is around. He doesn’t get any of the hype but he’s tough and as good as they come.”
Said Della Vecchia: “He doesn’t look like he’s moving but he’s pretty tough. We did not wrap him up, we didn’t hit him at all. I heard how good he was and he lived up to what we heard about him.”
Shane Miller caught a 17-yard pass from Vazzano, and then Vazzano scored on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter.
The Cadets, who travel to Fairfield Prep on Friday and played well in spurts on Saturday, feel there is room for improvement.
“We’re never satisfied,” Pedersen said. “Big game at Fairfield Prep next week. We’ll be coming out even harder.”
St. Joseph 47, Notre Dame-West Haven 28
Notre Dame-WH 7 7 6 8 0 — 28
St. Joseph 7 14 13 13 0 — 47
S—Mark Hirschbeck 49 pass from Jordan Vazzano (Mike Freeman kick)
N—Cam Tucker 8 run (Chris Stanio kick)Second quarter
S—Mufasa Abdul-Basir 11 run (Freeman kick)
N—Cam Tucker 2 run (Stanio kick)
S—Lars Pedersen 35 pass from Jordan Vazzano (Freeman kick)Third quarter
S—Lars Pedersen 82 kickoff ret (kick blocked)
N—Cam Tucker 71 run (kick failed)
S—Lars Pedersen 9 pass from Jordan Vazzano (Freeman kick)Fourth quarter
S—Shane Miller 17 pass from Jordan Vazzano (kick blocked)
N—Cam Tucker 3 run (Nico Ragaini pass from Blake Rice)
S—Jordan Vazzano 1 run (Freeman kick)
Team records: St. Joseph 1-0; Notre Dame-West Haven 0-1