NEW CANAAN, Conn. – New Canaan High football coach Lou Marinelli was as surprised as anyone by Thursday’s 36-23 loss to Darien in the annual Turkey Bowl between the archrival teams.
The Rams (8-2) raced out to a 14-0 lead and looked to be on the way to their 10th straight victory in the series against Darien. But New Canaan lost its offensive rhythm, defensive intensity and, ultimately, the game.
“Darien did a tremendous job,’’ said Marinelli, who lost for the first time in the rivalry since 2001. “I’m not exactly sure what happened. Give credit to Darien, they really took it to us today.”
New Canaan moved efficiently on its second drive of the game, covering 68 yards in five plays. Quarterback Nick Cascione hit Cole Turpin with a 54-yard pass to put the Rams up 7-0. New Canaan marched 75 yards in 12 plays on its next drive, capped by a 1-yard run by Frank Cognetta, for a 14-0 lead with 1:20 left in the third quarter.
It was all Darien after that. Blue Wave quarterback Henry Baldwin torched the Rams’ secondary for four touchdown passes and 234 yards, three of them to Nick Lombardo. Darien led 22-14 at halftime and put the game away with two second-half touchdowns.
“We won this game for so long, I think they thought we’re going to go down there, beat them up and they’ll roll over,’’ Marinelli said. “Then we’re up 14-0, and it’s like here we go again. Then wait a minute, they get a little life, we give them a touchdown and they got life. They did a tremendous job. Darien played their hearts out.”
Darien got on the board on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Baldwin to Lombardo with 11:37 left in the second quarter. On the next possession, Darien’s Myles Ridder intercepted a pitch on a New Canaan option play and ran 30 yards with the fumble into the end zone. That gave Darien the lead for good.
New Canaan had already clinched a Class L playoff berth. Now, the Rams head to Avon (10-0) on Tuesday. It will give them an opportunity to wipe away the disappointment of Thursday’s setback.
“I’d hate to see this group end its season on something like this,’’ Marinelli said. “They’ve been so good all year. Hopefully, we can rebound at states.”