For Staples tight end Peter Bonenfant, the biggest catch of his high school career was just like practice.

Wreckers coach Marce Petroccio regards Bonenfant as a weapon on offense in practice, but due to his increased duties at linebacker, the senior had only four receptions entering the FCIAC football championship against Greenwich.

That changed in a huge way on Thanksgiving, as Bonenfant made a reception the Wreckers won't soon forget with the game -- and the FCIAC title -- on the line.

Bonenfant caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Jack Massie with 1:21 remaining, propelling Staples to a pulsating 31-27 comeback win over Greenwich at jam-packed Staples High.

The spirited victory gave the Wreckers (9-0, 9-0 FCIAC) their sixth FCIAC championship and the inaugural Jerry McDougall Trophy.

"I caught four passes all year and that was my first touchdown of the year -- it felt amazing," Bonenfant said.

The defeat broke the hearts of the Cardinals, who along with claiming the league title, would have earned a berth in the CIAC Class LL playoffs with a victory. Ranked seventh in Class LL going into the Thanksgiving showdown, Greenwich dropped to 11th following the loss, unable to gain a spot in the eight-team tournament.

"I haven't felt this heartbroken for a group of kids in a long time," Greenwich coach Rich Albonizio said. "They deserved a better fate today. I'm proud of our players, they were a lot of fun to coach."

Trailing 27-24 in the fourth quarter, Staples drove 60 yards in nine plays for the winning score. On fourth-and-five from their own 45-yard line, the Wreckers' drive was kept alive on Massie's 11-yard pass to junior wide receiver James Frusciante (seven receptions, 95 yards). A 20-yard run off a sweep by junior Nick Kelly gave the Wreckers a first down at the GHS 19. Two plays later, Massie threw a scoring strike to Bonenfant, finding his tight end all alone in the right corner of the end zone.

"They called the play and I knew it was coming to my side and I said, `I have to make this play,' " Bonenfant said. "I gave a quick move to the left, got an outside release, got to the corner and he put the ball right on the money."

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The Cardinals (8-2, 8-1 FCIAC), who have 12 FCIAC titles to their ledger, got the ball back with 1:16 left, but were stopped on downs at their own 40.

"We weren't as disciplined as we could have been on our pass defense," GHS senior linebacker/offensive lineman Kyle Camacho said. "We weren't using the right depth or communicating and that's one of the reasons why they won. But I'm very proud of this team for getting all the way to the championship game."

Behind 17-14 late in the third quarter, the Cards seized the momentum after executing their season's most exciting play. Running the wildcat, junior Alex McMurray threw a lateral pass toward the right sideline to senior Joel Arroyo, who threw a lateral back to McMurray on the left sideline. Receiving several blocks, McMurray displayed his speed, sprinting 68 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. Jesse Adelberg kicked the extra point and Greenwich held a 21-17 advantage.

"I knew we were going to use that play today, I just didn't know when," Albonizio said.

Junior cornerback Nick Pulitano intercepted a Massie pass on the ensuing possession, setting the Cards up on their own 45. A 15-yard run from senior Mike Daly, coupled with a 15-yard pass from junior quarterback Liam O'Neil to McMurray put the ball on the Staples 18. Senior running back Shane Nastahowski completed the drive, reaching the end zone untouched on a sweep to the left, giving the Cards a 27-17 edge with 11:07 left in the final quarter.

"We had them," Albonizio said. "If you want to be great, you have to play great defense. Our team played great defense until there were eight minutes left in the game. When they threw the ball, they completed it."

A 13-play, 60-yard drive, punctuated by Kelly's 5-yard run off a sweep, got the Wreckers to within 27-24 with 7:00 remaining.

"The trick play was a killer for us," said Petroccio, whose squad has defeated GHS on Thanksgiving three straight times. "We had to come back and punch one in there soon after that. We had two very good drives in which we stayed patient and executed to our potential."

Petroccio was proud to see his tight end step up and make the winning touchdown reception.

"I think this was his fourth catch and it was his biggest one ever," Petroccio said. "In practice he's a weapon, but we've had him play middle linebacker and all over the place."

Despite facing a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit, there was no panic in the Wreckers.

"This team has so much heart it's unreal, said Kelly, the game's MVP, who rushed for 65 yards. "We just keep fighting hard until the end. Our coaches kept us positive."

After senior Robby Wolf converted a 28-yard, first quarter field goal for Staples, Greenwich took the lead on its second possession, marching 69 yards in 14 plays. Leading the wildcat, McMurray ran the ball nine times for 49 yards on the drive. The hard-running Nastahowski (55 yards, 13 carries) plunged into the end zone from 1-yard out 13 seconds into the second quarter.

The Wreckers regained the lead at 10-7 midway through the second quarter on an 8-yard run by Kelly, who ran the wildcat during the drive.

Greenwich came right back, moving the ball 70 yards in 17 plays. O'Neil (11-of-17, 83 yards) completed four passes to junior tight end Joe Kelly on the drive, while Nastahowski ate up yards on the ground. O'Neil scored on a 1-yard sneak, putting the visitors ahead, 14-10 with 46 seconds to go in the opening half.

"Our offense was better than anyone expected it to be today," Kelly said. "We heard a lot of talk about us not having an explosive offense, but we really stepped up today."

Staples took its first lead of the second half when Massie (16-of-22, 207 yards) connected with Frusciante in the flat for a 7-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.

"You saw two heavyweights go at it today," Petroccio said. "That was a heck of a game. Give Greenwich a lot of credit, they did a great job."

Said Albonizio: "We played a great team today that could go far in states and I'm proud of our effort."

NOTES: Staples junior Joey Zelkowitz returned to action after being sidelined with a shoulder injury. He caught four passes for 60 yards.