DARIEN, Conn. – Saturday’s football showdown between Darien and St. Joseph High School lived up to its billing as the game of the week, but missed opportunities put the Blue Wave on the wrong side of a heartbreaking 35-28 double overtime loss.
St. Joseph missed a chip-shot field goal in the first overtime, giving Darien another shot at stealing a victory. But the Cadets scored on a two-yard touchdown run by Mufasha Abdul Basir in the second overtime. Darien quarterback Henry Baldwin threw three straight incomplete passes, sealing the St. Joseph win.
“We said all week it was going to be a war and you saw a war,” Darien head coach Rob Trifone said. “St. Joe’s is awful good and I’m proud we played toe-to-toe with them, especially without a couple of our starters.”
Blue Wave lineman Matt D’Andrea battled severe cramps throughout the game. When the six-foot, 250-pound senior was on the sideline, St. Joseph took full advantage of the opportunity.
A banged-up Darien squad slowly faded as the game progressed, letting a 28-14 lead midway through the third quarter slip away. A key 50-yard pass late in the fourth quarter by Cadets quarterback Jordan Vazzano set up a Jake Pelletier 1-yard plunge to knot the game at 28-28, forcing overtime.
Basir racked up 121 rushing yards and the game-winning touchdown. Basir came up with a handful of big third down runs to give the Cadets some key first downs throughout the game.
Darien leaned on its running attack for most of the game, as Christian Bognar (144 rushing yards, one touchdown) and Ian Vanderhorn (159 all-purpose yards, two touchdowns) carried the offense.
St. Joseph was able to keep Baldwin in check for most of the game, holding the senior quarterback to 68 yards passing and just four completions in 14 attempts. Forty-three of those yards came on Baldwin’s touchdown strike to Vanderhorn.
“We were gassed at the end,"Trifone said, pointing out that his team has more players that play on both sides of the ball. “[St. Joseph] had fresh legs. We had tired legs. Losing [D'Andrea] killed us. Every time we took him out, they ran the ball right at that hole.”
Nick Lombardo scored the Blue Wave’s other touchdown on a 4-yard run early in the second quarter.
Darien (2-1) will try to bounce back next week when the Blue Wave hosts Danbury at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Follow Eric Gendron on Twitter for The Daily Voice's latest coverage of Fairfield County sports.
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