NORWALK -- Consistently giving a prolific offense a short field to navigate isn't exactly a blueprint for success.

The Brien McMahon football team learned so the hard way Saturday against Greenwich.

The Cardinals, who entered the FCIAC game averaging 48 points per contest, began several possessions during the first half in Senators territory. And Greenwich wasted little time making McMahon pay.

Senior tight end Joe Kelly caught three touchdown passes from Liam O'Neil, senior Alex McMurray ran for two scores and Greenwich built a commanding 35-point halftime lead in an impressive 49-14 triumph over McMahon at Jack Casagrande Stadium.

The victory, coupled by Darien's win against Trinity Catholic, puts Greenwich (7-0) in prime position to host Staples (7-0) for the FCIAC championship on Thanksgiving, as the two rivals continue their collision course.

Greenwich's offense continued to ride the red-hot arm of O'Neil. Protected well by the offensive line, O'Neil completed 16 of 20 passes for 261 yards and four touchdowns.

"Liam was on fire, our offensive line blocked real well and our receivers ran their routes well," said Kelly, who registered five receptions for 113 yards.

The Senators (4-4), who defeated Ridgefield last week, had trouble getting its vaunted running game going, courtesy of the Cardinals' defense.

"We've played two good Wing-T teams the past couple of weeks and we did a good job of containing them," Greenwich coach Rich Albonizio said.

The Cardinals began their first possession at the Senators' 4-yard line after sophomore cornerback Austin Longi intercepted McMahon junior quarterback Matt Downey and returned it 35 yards. McMurray reached the end zone on a run up the middle on the Cards first play from scrimmage, giving GHS a 7-0 lead 1:05 into the first quarter.

"I saw the quarterback wind up and I knew I had to get a break on the ball," Longi said. "I just wanted to take it down the field and get as close to the end zone as possible so we could punch it in."

Said O'Neil: "Austin set the tone with that pick. That shows what kind of athleticism he has. We scored on one play after that, which deflates a team."

Senior defensive lineman Alex McGee's sack of Downey pinned McMahon deep in its own territory, enabling Greenwich to take over at its 49-yard line after the ensuing punt. Five plays later, Kelly took a screen pass to the end zone, making it a 14-0 game midway through the second quarter.

"We were working on that play this week and we executed it perfectly," Kelly said.

O'Neil's 7-yard scoring strike to Kelly capped a 55-yard drive in the second quarter, putting the Cardinals three scores ahead. McGee jarred the ball loose with his second sack of the game and junior defensive lineman Jack Harrington pounced on the ball, setting GHS up at the McMahon 31. Senior Mark Bernstein (14 carries, 85 yards) finished the short drive with a 2-yard scoring run.

"I know this sounds funny, but I don't think we played terrible defense in the first half," McMahon coach A.J. Albano said. "We gave them a short field several times and gave up a couple of big plays. Before we knew it, the game got away from us."

A short punt set Greenwich up on McMahon's 27-yard line and McMurray scored four plays later on a 5-yard sweep, putting the home team in a 35-0 hole. Meanwhile, the Senators, who possess a dangerous pair of running backs in senior Kyle Jordan (14 carries, 76 yards) and junior Trevon Forney, couldn't generate much offensively.

"We game-planned all week against the trap and the Wing-T and all the work we put in with our coaches paid off," Harrington said. "We did a good job of getting in the quarterback's face."

"Our defensive line did an excellent job up front and when their backs tried to get outside, our corners came up and did the job," Bernstein added.

Albano knew his team had to move the ball to keep the Cardinals' offense off the field.

"We had to get first downs to change field position," Albano said. "Our third down offense and defense today was the key."

Kelly made one of the game's best plays, reaching the end zone in the second half on a 40-yard pass play off a tipped ball.

"What a catch he made," said Albonizio, who also lauded the play of his offensive line, which included Bob Decker, Vincent Murphy, Nick Spano and Justin Gaccione. "We have very good skilled kids, who make plays."

Sophomore Kentrell Snider caught a 42-yard touchdown pass from Downey late in the third quarter and senior Danny O'Brien scored on a 1-yard run in the third quarter for the Senators. O'Neil's fourth and final touchdown pass went to Taylor Olmstead (three receptions, 50 yards) in the fourth quarter. Greenwich now turns its attention to Thursday's home game against Danbury.

"It's our Senior Night and we're going to come out 100 percent," Kelly said. "We know we need the win to play for the FCIAC title, so we'll be ready.";


Greenwich 49, McMahon 14

GREENWICH 14 21 7 7--49

MCMAHON 0 0 7 7--14

G -- Alex McMurray 4 run (Jesse Adelberg kick)

G -- Joe Kelly 17 pass from Liam O'Neil (Jesse Adelberg kick)

G -- Kelly 7 pass from O'Neil (Adelberg kick)

G -- Mark Bernstein 2 run (Adelberg kick)

G -- McMurray 5 run (Adelberg kick)

G -- Kelly 40 pass from O'Neil (Adelberg kick)

BM -- Kentrell Snider 42 pass from Matt Downey (Henry Limon kick)

G -- Taylor Olmstead 13 pass from O'Neil (Adelberg kick)

BM -- Danny O'Brien 1 run (Limon kick)

Records: G 7-0, M 4-4