Three weeks ago, the Greenwich High School football team held a 21-point first half lead and was ahead by 14 in the second half against Southington, only to watch its advantage disappear and victory escape its grasp.
The Cardinals were intent not to experience the same scenario last night against FCIAC rival St. Joseph.
Leading by double digits several times during last night’s showdown against the Cadets, the visitors came back to make it a one-score game late in the game – in fact St. Joseph cut Greenwich’s lead to just three points in the fourth quarter.
Yet this time in a close game against a formidable foe, the Cardinals finished.
After St. Joseph closed to within three points with a touchdown at the 4:56 mark of the fourth quarter, Greenwich took possession, drove down the field and reached the end zone with 1:22 left to play, putting the finishing touch on a hard-fought 36-26 win before a huge crowd under the lights at Cardinal Stadium.
Greenwich moved its ranking up to No. 3 in the CIAC Class LL rankings with the victory, which raised its record to 4-1. Senior 6-foot-4 quarterback Jack Wilson was impressive, completing 17 of 23 passes for 249 yards and one touchdown for the Cardinals, who were edged at home by Southington in Week 3, 29-28. Wilson also ran for three touchdowns in the triumph.
“That’s a good football team,” Wilson said of St. Joseph. “We had a tough loss against them last year, so this win definitely feels good. This is a game we had marked down and it was a close game. That’s a great team win.”
The Cardinals, who dropped a 24-20 decision to St. Joseph in 2021 on the road, compiled 420 yards of total offense against the Cadets last night. Senior running back Jack Konigsberg totaled 108 yards on 12 carries, including a key run that set up a touchdown on the Cards’ final drive. Wilson used his legs to add 68 yards on the ground and senior wide receiver Charlie Dixon had 115 receiving yards.
“This offense, sometimes we have a tendency of fizzling out, so that’s a great job by us of baring down and winning the game,” Wilson said. “We definitely had good rhythm, the only thing stopping us is that we had bad penalties. We have to be better about being disciplined.”
Indeed, Greenwich was penalized more than 10 times, twice as much as St. Joseph. The penalties halted some of the Cardinals’ drives and kept a couple of Cadets’ scoring marches going. The home team led 7-3 after the first quarter, 14-6 at halftime and 29-13 following three quarters of action. But the visitors made it a 29-26 game with less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Cadets senior quarterback Will Singewald three touchdown passes and like Wilson, passed for 249 yards for the game.
“It’s an exciting Friday night game and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Greenwich coach Anthony Morello said. “That’s what you practice for, exciting games. It was a treat for the fans, for the coaches and players.”
Singewald’s 5-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Mickey Corvino cut the Cardinals’ lead to 29-26 with 4:56 left in the fourth quarter. Greenwich responded though, regaining its two-score lead.
Bursting his way up the middle, Konigsberg broke loose for a 59-yard run, giving GHS the ball at the St. Joe 14-yard line just under four minutes remaining. Four plays later, Konigsberg gained four yards on a fourth-and-three play, giving the Cards a first down at the St. Joseph 4-yard line. The next play, Wilson ran it into the end zone. Senior Sergot Boone kicked his fourth extra point of the game and Greenwich held a 36-26 lead with just 1:22 to go.
Morello appreciates how Wilson’s mobility aids the Cardinals’ offense.
“We made a point of emphasis the past two weeks to get Jack more involved in runs,” Morello said. “He’s so dynamic when he’s moving down field. Those rushing touchdowns he had were huge for us.”
Greenwich scored on its first possession of the game, driving 53 yards in six plays. The scoring drive was capped by Konigsberg’s 14-yard run. Boone converted the PAT, fiving GHS a 7-0 lead with 8:11 remaining in the first quarter.
St. Joseph got on the scoreboard courtesy of a 30-yard field goal by junior Logan Spoelstra, making it 7-3 at the 9:34 mark of the second quarter. The Cards quickly regained their two-score edge, with Wilson scoring on an impressive 33-yard run off a scramble down the right sideline, putting GHS on top, 14-3, with 7:18 to go in the second quarter.
Dixon’s 35-yard reception along the sideline sparked the Cardinals’ second scoring drive. Wilson had success passing to Dixon, senior James Wailgum (5 receptions, 77 yards) and senior tight end Dominic DeLuca (4 receptions, 47 yards).
“We’re all really close to Wilson, he’s a great quarterback, he’s made some big strides from last year,” Dixon said. “We knew when it was 1-on-1 he had to throw it up there and we would go get it.”
“They’re a great team,” Dixon continued. “After Southington, we were down, but we got together and had a big bounce-back win.”
St. Joseph closed to within 14-6 on Spoelstra’s 31-yard field goal with 37 seconds remaining. The field goal was set up by a fumble recovery by the Cadets off a punt by Jesse Covino. The Cardinals disputed the ruling, as Covino banged into Cardinals punt returner Brandon Auguste – which was confirmed by a video taken by Sean Patrick Bowley of GameTimeCT.
The Cardinals extended their lead to 21-6 when Wilson connected with the elusive Wailgum for a 42-yard touchdown at the 10:02 mark of the third quarter. Wailgum used his speed and shiftiness to elude defenders and dash down the right sideline for the score.
Dixon made a clutch play for Greenwich’s defense, intercepting a Singewald pass with 9:48 to go in the third quarter, keeping the home team ahead by two scores.
On St. Joseph’s ensuing possession, Singewald found senior wideout Brandon Hutchison open in corner of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown, slicing the Cardinals’ lead to 21-13 with 6:22 left in the third quarter.
A 49-yard return by Auguste on the ensuing kickoff set Greenwich up for its next TD. Passes of 11 and 21 yards to Dixon and DeLuca, respectively, helped move the ball to the Cadets’ 21-yard line. On a 3-and-11 play, Wilson escaped the pocket and again navigated his way into the end zone. Wilson also ran in the conversion run, padding Greenwich’s lead to 29-13 late in the third quarter.
“This game was really important,” DeLuca noted. “Three weeks ago, we were in here against Southington. We got upset, we let a team come into our home and beat us. To come out here and beat a really good team like St. Joe’s is a really big confidence-booster for us, on our home field. We’ve been hungry for this game since last year.”
In the final quarter, Singewald threw scoring strikes of 16 and 5 yards to senior Keenan Fraczek and Corvino, respectively, pulling the Cadets to within 29-26, but Greenwich was able to hold them off and hold on for the important win.
“There’s five minutes left in the game, it was a three-point game, it was very reminiscent of three weeks ago, so it was nice to see these guys finish off our final drive,” Morello said.
Morello was impressed with the balance his squad showed on offense. They gained 249 yards through the air and 192 on the ground. Senior George Vomvolakis added 27 rushing yards, for the Cards, who gained 19 first downs for the game.
“Having that extra two weeks made a big difference,” Morello said of having a bye week prior to last night’s game. “We were able to work on a lot of formations offensively and keep their defense off balance as much as possible.”
Greenwich received stellar play up front from defensive lineman, Griffin Galletta, DeLuca, Andre Casetellanos and Kiernan, while Dixon and Matthew Trimmer helped lead the secondary. Offensive lineman Teddy Flinn, Kienan, Drew Falla, Peter Vomvolakis and Vincent Insinga once again, excelled for the victors.
“We established the run game early and players made some big catches,” DeLuca said. “It was a great win.”
Up next for Greenwich is another tough game, as Trumbull visits Cardinal Stadium Thursday for a 7 p.m. FCIAC matchup.