GREENWICH, Conn. – For every question asked about Greenwich’s injuries, the Cardinals had an answer in Friday’s football opener.
The Cardinals offense rolled over Ridgefield in the first half and the defense shut the Tigers down throughout as a banged-up Greenwich battled to a 20-7 victory.
Backup quarterback Jose Melo, who played with an injured left leg, and third stringer Alex McMurray looked at home on Ridgefield’s home turf. The duo led a balanced attack less than a week after learning that starting quarterback Liam O’Neil would miss the first five weeks of the season with a broken finger.
“Last year I didn’t know the playbook, but now I can look at a defense and see what they’re giving me,” Melo said. “I have to give all the credit to my linemen and my receivers who stayed after practice to help me get the routes and the timing down right.”
Melo took to the air while McMurray led a Wildcat formation attack on the ground. It proved to be the perfect mix, as Ridgefield’s defense had no answer for Melo’s air assault.
The junior completed 11 of 19 passes for 258 yards and a touchdown in the spot start. McMurray contributed more than 100 yards on the ground and as a receiver.
Despite being thrown into the fire, McMurray said he relished the opportunity to take snaps under center. “I was excited, I’m not going to lie. I was quarterback freshman and sophomore year, so it was good to be back,” he said. “This was a big victory.”
On just the fourth play from scrimmage, Melo heaved a 70-yard touchdown pass to Joe Kelly to put Greenwich up 7-0. With a no-huddle offense keeping Ridgefield on its heels, Melo connected with Kelly for a gain of 40 yards two possessions later.
McMurray plunged in four plays later to put the Cardinals up 14-0 after one quarter. Jesse Adelberg added field goals from 32 and 42 yards out to round out the Greenwich scoring.
The offense stole the show in the first half, but Greenwich’s defense lowered the boom in the second half. Defensive co-captains Alex McGee and Taylor Olmstead wreaked havoc all evening. McGee collected a pair of sacks, while Olmstead picked off Tiger quarterback Connor Rowe in the end zone to end a Ridgefield threat in the fourth.
It was the second season in a row that Greenwich defeated Ridgefield on opening night.
The Cardinals (1-0) will travel to Bassick for a 4:30 p.m. game next Friday.