Greenwich football routs Ludlowe in O'Neil's return
It didn't take long for Greenwich quarterback Liam O'Neil to get back into a groove in his first game of the season.
O'Neil's third completion in Friday night's game against Fairfield Ludlowe resulted in a touchdown and was merely a prelude of what was to follow.
The senior threw for 163 yards and two touchdowns in his return from a fractured finger suffered in the preseason, and senior Alex McMurray ran for three touchdowns in the Cardinals' 40-14 victory over Ludlowe at chilly Taft Field.
"It felt great to be back under center after missing so much time," O'Neil said. "Our offensive line worked so hard in front of me, everyone worked hard. I couldn't have asked for anything more."
Greenwich (4-0) received another strong defensive effort. Seniors Mark Bernstein and Taylor Olmstead helped spearhead the defense, intercepting Falcons quarterback Matt White in the first half to set the tone.
"Our defense played very well, especially the first half," said Greenwich coach Rich Albonizio, whose team is ranked third in the state. "They (Ludlowe) were feisty and tried some things to get into the game. But our defense was very strong."
Senior wide receiver Vincent Ferraro caught O'Neil's first touchdown pass -- a 9-yarder in the flat with 5 minutes remaining in the first quarter.
"For the first time out there, I thought Liam looked good," Albonizio said. "He did some good things out there and was very smart."
Olmstead, a strong safety, intercepted White and returned it to the Ludlowe 17-yard line, setting up Greenwich's second score: McMurray's 3-yard run up the middle. His 1-yard sneak made it 20-0 at the half.
Meanwhile, the Falcons (1-4) had trouble getting going offensively, with the Cards winning the battle up front. Bernstein, senior defensive lineman Joe Kelly, junior lineman Jack Wynne and senior linebacker Dan Claroni each sacked White in the first half.
"Their defensive line gave us a lot of trouble," Ludlowe coach Matt McCloskey said. "We had to make some adjustments in the second half, and we did a better job offensively in the second half. A couple of mistakes in the first half helped them get a 20-0 lead."
Sophomore playmaker Austin Longi sprinted to the end zone on a dazzling 99-yard punt return in the third quarter for Greenwich, which seized a 27-0 advantage.
One of the Falcons' highlights occurred on the ensuing play, as senior Dan Silvestri returned the kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown.
White scored on a 19-yard run for Ludlowe, which saw receivers Silvestri and Dan Santella step up offensively.
"Matt is a junior who is improving each game," McCloskey said. "I thought we played well, but you can't make mistakes against a great team like Greenwich."
GREENWICH 13 7 7 13 -- 40
LUDLOWE 0 0 7 7 -- 14
G -- Vincent Ferraro 9 pass from Liam O'Neil (kick failed)
G -- Alex McMurray 3 run (Peter Heerdt kick)
G -- McMurray 1 run (Heerdt kick)
G -- Austin Longi 99 punt return (Heerdt kick)
FL -- Dan Silvestri 89 kickoff return (Victor D'Asenzo kick)
G -- McMurray 4 run (kick failed)
G -- Joe Kelly 51 pass from O'Neil (Heerdt kick)
FL -- Matt White 19 run (D'Asenzo kick)
Records: G 4-0, FL 1-4