GREENWICH — Darien’s 33-26 win over Greenwich on Friday night certainly lived up to the hype, often in unexpected ways.
Sprinkled in with some highlight-reel scores and a back-and-forth game, there were nine turnovers and a bank of lights went out in the third quarter, causing a 15-minute delay.
When it was all over, the teams generally ranked 1-2 in the preseason were headed in vastly opposite directions. The Blue Wave are 2-0 despite a first-half lapse in the opener against Hillhouse and five lost fumbles against Greenwich.
The Cardinals’ postseason hopes are on life support at 0-2, with a trip to New Canaan up next.
Here are a few morning after thoughts on a wild game.
— The term “thunder and lightning” is a familiar one to describe two running backs with diverse running styles that complement one another.
That certainly holds true for the Blue Wave’s Peter Archey and Shelby Grant. Archey — thunder — carried the ball 10 times for 53 yards, mostly in the first half, to pound at Greenwich’s defense. He had one touchdown.
Grant — lightning — had 98 yards on seven carries, mostly in the second half, playing a part in Darien’s final 18 points. He set up a field goal with a long run, scored from 43 yards to give the Blue Wave a 26-18 lead and, after Greenwich tied the game, he provided the winning points with a 13-yard touchdown with 2:15 left.
“Both me and Pete, I love the lightning and thunder thing,” Grant said. I love when people say that.”
— The urgency Greenwich coach Rich Albonizio put on the game was apparent on the opening drive. Faced with fourth-and-one from his own 40 just seven plays in, Albonizio went for it and Luke Bienstock converted with a five-yard run. The Cardinals’ drive bogged down six plays later.
— Greenwich’s defense was actually quite active at times and got a good pass rush. The first score of the game came on a sack by Scooter Harrington, resulting in a fumble by quarterback Tim Graham that Joey Longo returned for a touchdown.
Jack Weigold sacked Graham on consecutive plays at the start of the third quarter.
But that was offset by the Cardinals’ penchant for giving up big plays.
Graham threw for 260 yards as receivers got open in the secondary for big gains.
— Albonizio said before the season when he rests Austin Longi, his star do-it-all running back/swingman, it would be on offense because he is needed in the secondary. But Greenwich is a different team without Longi on the field. He turned what should have been two losses on dumps into 57- and 37-yard scores because of his unique ability. The Cardinals have struggled without Longi on the field. Four turnovers and repeated penalties haven’t helped.
— Albonizio was frustrated and disheartened after the loss. He works in arguably the most unforgiving town when it comes to football, where coaches have always been put under the microscope and are overly criticized.
Albonizio threw himself under the bus following the game.
“They were better than us,” he said. “They were better coached.”