No. 6 St. Joseph sparked by second-half interceptions, Riley Jordan runs in win over No. 2 New Canaan
NEW CANAAN — Dismissed by some before the season for a lack of size, St. Joseph is becoming the biggest little football team in the FCIAC.
Three second-half interceptions, two by Connor Fahey, and three second-half Riley Jordan touchdowns lifted the Hogs to a 27-14 win Friday night over New Canaan at Dunning Stadium.
“We knew we had heart. We knew we had talent. We were a little smaller team,” Jordan said. “We went through a lot during the offseason. To be 6-1 right now is surreal.”
St. Joseph is 6-1, with its only loss to Greenwich, ranked No. 4 in the GameTimeCT Top 10 Poll, two spots ahead of the Hogs. New Canaan, which came in 6-0, was ranked No. 2.
“They played with all heart. They came up with big interceptions, key tackles. We have five sophomores out there, and they’re going after it.”
St. Joseph took the ball away from New Canaan four times.
“Mistakes and turnovers, that’s not a good combination. What can I say?” New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said.
St. Joseph remained atop the Class L points standings. New Canaan had been second but dropped to fifth soon after the game, though not all scores were in.
New Canaan hadn’t allowed a point in 14 quarters coming in, and the Rams stretched that to 15, taking a 7-0 lead on Matt Salmini’s interception return. They’d also blocked a Logan Spoelstra field goal try from 42 yards.
But Spoelstra booted a 28-yarder late in the second quarter to end New Canaan’s shutout streak at 193 minutes, 6 seconds. And after a Rams fumble, he kicked a 27-yarder with 9.1 seconds left in the half.
All that set the table for the heroics of the St. Joseph secondary and Jordan.
Fahey said he’d dropped three would-be interceptions early in the season.
“These two are special,” he said.
Della Vecchia said he’d once told Fahey to get a baseball glove to hang onto those picks, but he credited the sophomore’s work on catching the ball and improving his focus.
“Before the game, actually, I said to him go make plays,” Della Vecchia said. “Don’t be afraid to make interceptions. Don’t be afraid to do that. When you’re sitting back waiting, that’s when the bad things happen.”
Sam Rosa also picked off a Ty Groff pass in the fourth quarter, setting up Jordan’s last touchdown, a bruising 10-yard run. Fahey’s second pick sealed the game.
St. Joseph senior running back Riley Jordan ran 30 times for 168 yards and three touchdowns. All three scores came on 16 second-half rushes for 123 yards. Two of those went for over 50. (This leaves out Hogs sophomore Connor Fahey’s two second-half interceptions.)
“Riley, he’s a monster. He’s a guy we ride, him and (Ryan) DeMarco, two great captains,” Fahey said. “With everything that’s happened, they’re our guys. They’re our anchor.”
Groff, New Canaan’s expected starting quarterback this season, finally made his first start. He had played a few games at quarterback but nothing near a full contest after breaking his non-throwing hand in the summer.
“He hasn’t really been under fire that much, not like this,” Marinelli said. “You have an inexperienced quarterback, it’s OK when you’re up. It’s a lot easier then. When you face a defense like that, they put a lot of pressure on him.”
“I think (Jordan) is a great runner. Great vision. He’s strong. He’s tough. He doesn’t have that breakaway speed, but he does a lot of things really well.” —St. Joseph coach Joe Della Vecchia