Ridgefield passes Warde on rainy night

Connecticut Post - - SPORTS - By Emery Filmer

FAIR­FIELD — Hor­ri­ble, rainy con­di­tions are not ex­actly con­ducive to a pro­duc­tive pass­ing game. Yeah, try telling that to Ridgefield coach Kevin Cal­la­han or his quar­ter­back Owen Matthews.

“We came in (to Fri­day’s game at Fair­field Warde) want­ing to run more,” Cal­la­han said, re­fer­ring to the rain. But Matthews threw for 245 yards and three touch­downs in Ridgefield’s 29-0 vic­tory. “Matthews usu­ally gets a good grip on the ball even in the rain so we were able to throw it.”

The Tigers (5-4) un­der Cal­la­han love to spread it out and throw the ball, and they threw it twice as many times as Warde Fri­day. And it worked, al­beit im­per­fectly. While Matthews had a good grip on one end,

the re­ceivers on the other end did drop sev­eral passes. Over­all, Matthews was 13 for 27.

“We prac­tice throw­ing a wet ball,” Cal­la­han said. “Owen can re­ally get on top of the ball and we have con­fi­dence in him throw­ing in th­ese con­di­tions.”

While Ridgefield, which rushed for a net of 14 yards on 23 at­tempts, re­fused to get away from their nor­mal pass- first at­tack, Warde played it by the book, go­ing the more con­ven­tional route, and un­der­stand­ably so. Mus­tangs quar­ter­back Joey Gul­bin passed just 13 times, about half his norm, and com­pleted four for 53 yards and one costly in­ter­cep­tion. Warde coach Dun­can Del­laVolpe’s game plan was to keep the ball in tail­back Joe Gji­naj’s hands and the se­nior had a solid night with 90 rush­ing yards on 23 car­ries.

But the score­board told the story, even though this was a score­less game with five min­utes re­main­ing in the third quar­ter.

“It’s hard to crit­i­cize any­one in con­di­tions like this,” said Cal­la­han, who gave his team a rous­ing post-game pep talk in a down­pour. “Every score felt like two scores in a game like this.”

Warde (4-5), mean­while, stuck to the run and was able to hang in un­til dis­as­ter struck in the third quar­ter. It was nearly eight min­utes into the third quar­ter be­fore any­one put points on the board. And then in un­der two min­utes, Ridgefield had a 14-point lead.

First it was Matthews to Dan Moroney on a short, nine-yard pass in which Moroney showed great sec­ond ef­fort to get into the end zone. Then, af­ter Warde fum­bled the en­su­ing kick­off, Matthews hooked up on a 30-yard scor­ing play to Gianni Gor- ham on a 4th-and-26, and just like that it was 14-0 Ridgefield.

“Get­ting that sec­ond touch­down was big,” Cal­la­han said, know­ing that the two score-lead at that point seemed more like four.

In the fourth quar­ter, af­ter get­ting a touch­down called back on a penalty, the Tigers made it 17-0 on Se­bas­tian Gas­paro’s 23yard field goal.

Then things re­ally fell apart for the Mus­tangs. On the first play on their next pos­ses­sion, Gul­bin’s short pass was in­ter­cepted by Jack­son Mitchell and re­turned 45 yards for a touch­down.

Fi­nally, with just over three min­utes re­main­ing in the fourth quar­ter, Matthews tossed a 53-yard touch­down to Gorham (two re­cep­tions for 83 yards) to close out the scor­ing.

Del­laVolpe­was un­avail­able for comment af­ter the game.

Chris­tian Abra­ham / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Warde’s Joe Gji­naj is tack­led from be­hind by Ridgefield’s Ben Se­ward Fri­day in Fair­field.

Chris­tian Abra­ham / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Ridgefield QB Owen Matthews pre­pares to throw a pass against Fair­field Warde on Fri­day.

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