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New Canaan Defense Saves Team In Wild Football Win

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – On an afternoon where the New Canaan High football team’s offense seemed to sputter at times, it was the Rams’ defense that came to save the day in a nail-biting 27-21 victory over St. Joseph of Trumbull on Saturday.

Trailing 21-19 with just under six minutes to play in the game, Cole Harris picked off St. Joe’s backup quarterback Patrick Boyle for the eventual game-winning, 55-yard touchdown return. New Canaan had to come up with two more defensive stops before it could finally breathe a sigh of relief and claim victory.

“It was complete luck. I just popped in front of it, bobbled it for a second and then took off,” Harris said of the deciding interception. “We played probably our worst half of the season followed by our best, which was just enough to win.”

Both teams came into the contest with the same record looking to keep their state playoff hopes alive. With four turnovers for St. Joseph, three for New Canaan and nearly a dozen penalties called between the two, it seemed at times neither team wanted to take control of the game.

St. Joseph kicked off the scoring in the first with an efficient 53-yard drive ending in a one-yard Mike Pulaski touchdown. The Cadets seemed ready to strike again after stopping the Rams, but a muffed punt return was a sign of things to come for St. Joe’s. Three plays later, New Canaan quarterback Nick Cascione scrambled 13 yards to cut the Cadets lead to 7-6.

The teams traded touchdowns to keep the game close, including a gutsy 4th-and-19 pass to a wide-open Michael DiCosmo for a 30-yard strike. St. Joe’s managed to pad its lead before halftime, going into the break with a 21-12 lead.

One of the few times the New Canaan offense clicked on the day came on an impressive 12-play, seven-plus minute, no-huddle drive in the third quarter. A 19-yard screen pass to Frank Cognetta cut the St. Joseph lead to 21-19.

The turning point of the game came as the third quarter came to a close, however, as Cadets quarterback Andrew Vazzano came down hard on his left shoulder. The 6-foot-3, 210 pound quarterback would not return and the St. Joseph offense was never the same.

New Canaan turned the ball over twice more before the game was settled, but Harris’ dramatic interception was the final strike the Rams needed.

“For pretty much a young team, we really grew up today,” Rams head coach Lou Marinelli said. “It was just that kind of game that was so hard to coach. Just when we thought we had control of it, the tide would turn and we were back on defense. But our defense did a heck of a job today.”

New Canaan (4-1) will host Wilton on Oct. 27 for a 2 p.m. game. 

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