Ridgefield upsets Staples
Updated 11:49 pm, Friday, October 23, 2015
WESTPORT—The Ridgefield football team believes it is on its way back to relevance after a year in the wilderness.
The Tigers now have a signature win in the bank as they look to do damage behind a strong junior class.
Staples’ perfect start to 2015 went up in smoke on Friday as upstart Ridgefield pulled off a 31-27 upset over the Wreckers behind four touchdown passes from junior quarterback Andrew Fowler.
Fowler threw a 1-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone to Chris Longo — who had three TD receptions in the game — with 3:29 left to give the Tigers (3-2) the lead for good.
“It was just a slant-and-go and he had the matchup,” Fowler said. “We were looking to isolate (Longo); I just threw it up there and he caught it.
Longo and Collin Lowe (10 catches, 173 yards) — both juniors — had huge days receiving for the Tigers, who scored more points Friday than the Wreckers (5-1) allowed in their five wins combined (29).
“We know we like to throw the ball a lot and we found some matchups that we liked,” Ridgefield coach Joe Arcieri said. “At the same time we know (Staples) is a well-coached team. We picked our spots in places and had success; kids made great plays.”
Staples (5-1) trailed 24-14 heading into the fourth quarter, but scored on consecutive drives to take its first lead of the game. Ryan Fitton hauled in a 29-yard touchdown on 4th-and-13 to keep the Wreckers alive before Eliot Poulley scored the second of his rushing scores midway through the fourth to give Staples a 28-24 lead.
The Poulley touchdown was set up by a rare mistake from Fowler, as he was intercepted by Staples’ Brendan Massoud.
When Fowler got the ball back, though, he was flawless. The Tigers marched 74 yards on 12-plays, a drive that was capped off by the winning strike to Longo.
“Our theme this year for the most part has been mental toughness,” said. “This is where that stuff pays off.”
Ridgefield jumped out to an early 14-0 lead as a blocked punt led to a very short field. Fowler hit Longo for a 5-yard touchdown to capitalize, and after forcing a three-and-out scored the duo hooked up again from 15-yards out to give the Tigers early confidence.
Staples got on the board within the opening minute of the second quarter as Evan Gilland - who operated as a wildcat back at times Friday - broke a 52-yard run for a touchdown to cut the lead in half heading into the third quarter.
The Tigers took a 21-7 lead early in the third quarter as Lowe caught four consecutive passes for 75 yards on the same drive. Staples rallied from there but the Tigers pushed back for the win.
The Wreckers were missing starting quarterback Andrew Speed (concussion), running back Ethan Burger (hamstring) and top cornerback Colin Hoy (shoulder) through injuries. While Staples hoped to limp into the bye unblemished, the Tigers attacked the Wreckers through the air and came away with the win.
“We’ve been living on the edge with these injuries,” Staples coach Marce Petroccio said. “We had guys who had never played on this field before. I thought my kids played hard, but give credit to Ridgefield.”
The win lifts Ridgefield above .500 and remains a dangerous out to each team on its schedule.
“It’s been a bit of a coming back year for us we believe,” Arcieri said. “We’ve had confidence we can play with any team out there as long as we execute. When we play good Ridgefield football, we can.”
RIDGEFIELD 31, STAPLES 27
RIDGEFIELD 14 0 10 7--31
STAPLES 0 7 7 13—27
R—Chris Longo 5 pass Drew Fowler (Petros Papadopoulos kick)
R—Longo 15 pass Drew Fowler (Papadopoulos kick)
S—Evan Gilland 52 run (Paul Tricarico kick)
R—Collin Lowe 29 pass Drew Fowler (Papadopoulos kick)
S—Eliot Poulley 2 run (Tricarico kick)
R—Papadopoulos 34 field goal
S—Ryan Fitton 29 pass Daniel Thompson (Tricarico kick)
S—Poulley 2 run (kick blocked)
R—Longo 1 pass Drew Fowler (Papadopoulos kick)
Records: Ridgefield 3-2; Staples 5-1.