Wave coach Rob Trifone said Darien would have to play a perfect game to beat St. Joe’s.
Not Darien — not anymore — after losing for the first time this season, 35-28 in double-overtime to St. Joseph at Stadium Field on Homecoming Game Saturday.
The crowd could not have asked for a more ideal afternoon of entertainment, though, with the Wave turning in picture perfect moments, like when big hitter Matt D’Andrea went all-skills with an interception and deep return to spark Nick Lombardo’s four yard TD rush, and follow-up PAT run that saw DHS tie it 14-14 early in the second quarter.
We should have won. And that’s not taking anything away from St. Joe’s.
— Rob Trifone
But the ideal outing for the home town crowd ended when Darien (2-1) failed to get the ball over on its last four attempts in its second overtime series.
That after, on the Cadets’ (2-1) deciding down in OT — the last of its only series — hero of the day Mufasha Abdul-Basir broke through a pile from four yards out to score what turned out the winner, with the PAT kick tacked on.
“Well everyone played a great game,” Abdul-Basir said. “Defense stuck it out, offense stuck it out too.
“Give it up to Darien, they are a hell of a team. But, we kind of wanted it more.”
“They are very, very talented,” said Wave coach Rob Trifone. “And, you know what? We should have won. And that’s not taking anything away from St. Joe’s.”
Chinks in the Wave’s perfection were too glaring to go unnoticed.
Said Trifone: “If you go back, and it’s hard to recollect, because my mind is spinning, but, (one player) drops that belly pass in the first half. We’ve got to catch that.”
Another Wave, Trifone noted, had a second interception in his hands, and dropped it too.
“And then they convert, and they score a touchdown,” Trifone said. “So you can’t do that.”
St. Joseph takes the vital early season match-up, one that is destined to ripple on through with implications for the Wave’s chances the season long.
“We knew they were going to move the ball — you can’t stop them,” said Trifone. “You have to contain them, and you have to match score for score, which obviously we did.”
Darien could only match so much.
“But the other thing is, they are two-platooned, they have an offense and a defense,” added Trifone. “And they have fresh legs. And we’re not two-platooned. We’re getting there, we’re closer every year. But we had tired legs.”
Darien had guys cramping up. D’Andrea needed to leave the field more than once. But he always returned.
“And if you’re Rob Trifone, you have to play Matt D’Andrea both ways,” the coach said. “He’s 278 pounds. Until parents start providing me with more 278-pounders, I have to play him both ways, it’s as simple as that.
“If I had to do it again I wouldn’t change anything.”
The often picture perfection cropped up right away for Darien. Ian Vanderhorn scored down the right side on a 72-yard sprint at 9:13 of the first period. Although the kick failed.
St. Joe came back on a 19-yard scoring pass from QB Jordan Vazzano to Mark Hirschbeck and PAT kick from Jake Pelletier to take a 7-6 lead with 6:34 to play in the first quarter.
And the Cadets looked to be pulling away early when Mike Pulaski scored for 13-6 with only 16.6 seconds to go.
The 14-6 lead the Cadets took into the second quarter faded fast, though, when Lombardo scored and added the conversion, then Christian Bognar rushed free for a 65 yard touchdown with :57.7 on the clock.
C.J. Raia kicked the PAT and Darien was on top 21-14, and things swung around to now make it seem the Wave was going to pull away.
Vanderhorn took a 50 yard scoring pass from Baldwin, Rai kicked the point and Darien broke out with a 28-14 lead at 8:59 of the third quarter.
The Cadets struck back with Pelletier’s 30 yard scoring catch and then his kick to cut Darien’s lead to 28-21.
And the Cadets took away the game in the fourth, assaulting the Wave end from start to finish.
Pelletier crashed in from five yards, and did the encore once more with the PAT kick and it was tied 28-28 with 4:49 to go in regulation time.
The Cadets just kept on coming.
Darien made a strong defensive stand as the visitors threw the ball away, or were stymied at the line, inside the Wave 20 as the fourth period came to its inconclusive close.
Darien began the first OT series, with the ball spotted on the 10, and Bognar gained a couple of yards.
Lars Pederson spoiled Jack Bennett’s attempted reception right on the goal line on the second down.
Darien called time out.
Third down, and Darien goes incomplete to the right corner to Jackson Whiting.
And on fourth down, Rai pretended to kick a field goal, and Darien failed on the rush.
St. Joe’s first go round in OT saw its run get nowhere.
Second down got bogged down at the four by the Wave D.
On the third try, St. Joe’s field goal attempt goes wide left.
Third and four, and the Cadets score and kick the point for the numbers that put them over.
“It was all to the offensive line,” said Abdul-Basir. “They kind of made a great hole for me, I kind of just stood behind them. Great team effort.”
Darien began its second OT series with a rush that went nowhere, a pass that did the same, followed by two more no-dice plays in the air on the right side at fourth and eight, going to Whiting then Bognar to finish things up.
Trifone could not ignore the unfortunate gap in the lineup.
“And I said to them, they played without Peter Gesualdi,” he said of Darien’s injured 2011 top scorer. “Not that one man makes a team, and far from it. But, it goes without saying, you put Peter Gesualdi back in the lineup, it rounds out the offense real nice.
“And we become that much more difficult to defend.”