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St. Joseph offense too explosive for Ridgefield

Updated 12:47 am, Sunday, September 29, 2013

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  • St.Joseph quarterback Jordan Vazzano passes the ball Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013 during their game with Ridgefield at St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, Conn. Photo: Autumn Driscoll / Connecticut Post

    St.Joseph quarterback Jordan Vazzano passes the ball Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013 during their game with Ridgefield at St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, Conn.

    Photo: Autumn Driscoll

 

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TRUMBULL -- A week ago, St. Joseph won on a last-second heave, with Lars Pedersen hauling in a 42-yard Hail Mary from Jordan Vazzano to stun Fairfield Prep.

On Saturday, the Cadets didn't need to pull out any dramatics again -- Vazzano made sure of that.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound laser-armed quarterback enjoyed a monster day against Ridgefield, throwing for 331 yards and three scores as St. Joseph crushed the Tigers 41-12 at home.

"He was on target today," St. Joseph coach Joe Della Vecchia said. "Our kids, I think they ran some great routes. All the checks that they went through, they were right on all day."

Vazzano also reached the end zone on the ground once, scoring from 21 yards on the opening drive for the Cadets' first of four first-half touchdowns. The Cadets (3-0) led 28-0 at halftime and 35-0 midway through the third after Vazzano's final touchdown pass of the day, a 58-yard strike to Pedersen.

The Cadets carved up Ridgefield's defense, scoring six touchdowns on their first eight drives. Their first punt -- one of two on the day -- came with 7:46 left in the fourth quarter.

Afterward, Ridgefield coach Kevin Callahan heaped praise on his explosive opponent.

"In 22 years as a head coach, I think that's the best team I've seen," he said. "(Vazzano) stands back there and doesn't get touched. You can literally take the tackle box out of this game."

The Tigers opened in an up-tempo, no-huddle offense with hopes of throwing St. Joseph's defense off, but it was the Cadets who scored fast. Already up seven after their opening six-play, 80-yard drive, the Cadets made it 14-0 with 8:35 left in the first when Vazzano connected with wide reciever Shane Miller for a 55-yard score.

"I think it backfired on them a little bit because it seemed to wear them out a little bit more," Della Vecchia said, referring to Ridgefield's fast-paced offense. "I was surprised we ran only 34 plays at halftime."

Of the Cadets' six scoring drives, the two longest took just six plays.

"I thought we were clicking," Vazzano said. "Everybody played well. The line played great, our wide receivers made plays."

Callahan said it's Ridgefield's third year running the fast-paced offense, but on Saturday it was neutralized by St. Joseph. Ridgefield (2-1) punted three times, had a field goal blocked, tossed two interceptions and had a drive cut short by halftime before finally reaching the end zone. Wide receiver Noah Broder caught a 1-yard pass from Ryan Dunn with 5:31 left in the third quarter to cut it to 35-6.

"The better football team won today," Callahan said. "That was a spot we're not used to being in. It was kind of tough."

The Tigers' Will Bonaparte had some success on the ground, carrying the ball 21 times for 106 yards. But St. Joseph found plenty of running room as well, as tailback Mufasha Abdul Basir totaled 149 yards and two touchdowns on just 13 carries. He had a 6-yard touchdown run with 2:11 left before halftime to make it 28-0, then added a 53-yard scoring burst with 4:50 remaining in the third to make it 41-6.

"It was really more of the offensive line's day," Abdul Basir said, deflecting the credit. "They made a great effort of opening those holes, and I just kind of followed them."

Four different players scored touchdowns on the day for the Cadets, who could breathe easier after last week's 36-34 defeat of Prep. In three games, the Cadets are averaging 41 points.

"You never really get nervous or lose your composure when you know that it just takes one play to change the game with any one of our wide receivers," Vazzano said.

dbonjour@scni.com; 203-255-4561 ext 114; twitter.com/DougBonjour

RIDGEFIELD 0 0 6 6 -- 12

ST. JOSEPH 14 14 13 0 -- 41

SJ -- Jordan Vazzano 21 run (Kevin Bortnick kick)

SJ -- Shane Miller 55 pass Vazzano (Bortnick kick)

SJ -- Lars Pedersen 73 pass Vazzano (kick failed)

SJ -- Mufasha Abdul Basir 6 run (2-point conversion good)

SJ -- Pedersen 58 pass Vazzano (Bortnick kick)

R -- Noah Broder 1 pass Ryan Dunn (2-point conversion failed)

SJ -- Abdul Basir 53 run (kick failed)

R -- Erik Weber 11 pass Dunn (2-point conversion failed)

Records: Ridgefield 2-1; St. Joseph 3-0.