NEW CANAAN, Conn. – Rye Country Day School's football team had won nine straight over St. Luke’s School entering Saturday’s game in New Canaan. The Storm ended that streak, 26-20, but there’s still some mountains left to climb over the next month.
The Storm improved to 6-0 as Noel Thomas Jr. rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown. He also had to step in for quarterback Charlie Nelson, who left the game in the second half with a concussion. Rye Country Day rallied from a 14-0 first quarter deficit to tie the game at 20 in the third quarter before Thomas’ one-yard touchdown run in the fourth put the Storm ahead to stay.
“We definitely wanted to have a better day this year than last year,’’ coach Noel Thomas Sr. said. “The primary objective for us is to win each week. We try not to have one game that’s bigger than the rest. We wanted to win and stay in the race for the playoffs. We had to get through Rye to stay in that conversation.”
Nelson completed 6-of-8 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game. His 11-yard run and a 15-yard touchdown run by Myles Gaines (70 yards rushing) staked St. Luke’s to a 14-0 lead. The Wildcats got the next two touchdowns, but Nelson hit Blake Stroman with a 35-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. Rye Country Day tied it in the third quarter.
Thomas said he trusted his son to accept the challenge at quarterback, but was concerned about the team’s emotional side. “Noel’s done it before,’’ Thomas said. “I believe with the ball in his hands, we’ll be in any game. I was a little nervous because we had a couple of things go wrong. The whole emotional side can play a role. I thought as long as we kept our cool, we’d be fine.”
Andrew Sudano had nine tackles for St. Luke’s and Bryan Latarocca had an interception. Ron Holland blocked a kick conversion and Paul Freeman and Sam Drews also played well defensively. Thomas also had an interception. A standing-room only crowd watched the homecoming win as St. Luke’s won for the 17th time in 18 games dating back to 2010.
The victory sets up an important three-game stretch to end the season for St. Luke’s. After a bye week, the Storm meet Pennington School on Oct. 27, and then finish the Fairchester Athletic Association season with games against The Hackley School and The King School. Both of those teams – who meet Saturday in Tarrytown, N.Y. – are undefeated.
“The more games you win, the better chance you’ll have of making the playoffs,’’ coach Thomas said. “Our goal is to go undefeated, and hopefully we can make that happen. This last leg of the season is huge. Right now, I’m living a dream. It’s awesome for me and the St. Luke’s family.”