Watch! St. Joseph 35, Darien 28 – The [double overtime] Movie!

Finally, our last high school football video of the week. Phew. Took us long enough, right?

We saved the best for last: St. Joseph’s big 35-28 double-overtime victory on homecoming day in Darien.

Thanks to some big plays from the highly-regarded Blue Wave, the Hogs found themselves down 28-14 early in the second half. But watch as St. Joseph rallied behind Mufasa Abdul Basir, Jordan Vazzano and Jake Pelletier to tie the game.

After some craziness in overtime No. 1, Abdul Basir scored and the Hogs’ defense held to put them into a crowded house of FCIAC and state contenders.

As for Darien, some disappointments. But at least the Darien kids could look forward to their homecoming dance.

Here’s the video. Below, read reporter Jon Chik‘s final recap as we head into Week 4.

Jon Chik:

In what was arguably the game of the year thus far in FCIAC football, St. Joseph got out of Darien with a huge 35-28 win in double overtime, leaving both teams with a 2-1 mark.

Where do we start?: Three lead changes, two overtime periods and a game-winning two-yard touchdown plunge by St. Joseph’s Mufasha Abdul Basir in double overtime were just the tip of the iceberg. Earlier in the week, both teams indicated that they were fully prepared for a down-to-the wire clash, and low and behold, the Cadets and Wave needed two overtime periods to settle the score.

Overtime rules: Regardless of whether we’re talking high school, college or pro, there seems to be a never-ending debate over overtime football rules. High school football follows the same rules as college with one exception: The ball is placed at the opposition’s 10 instead of the 25
Having also covered Darien’s double-overtime win at home against Wilton last season, I can say that this is the way to go for high school football. Both teams have an opportunity to possess the ball, the teams start their possession in field goal range and both offenses have four plays to put some points on the board. Under this format, there also does not appear to be any sizable advantage for an offense or defense.

Seven in a row: After Darien quarterback Henry Baldwin hit Ian Vanderhorn for a 41-yard scoring strike on its first possession of the second half, the St. Joseph defense took over and didn’t permit another Darien score the rest of the way. Darien’s next four possessions ended with three punts and an interception by St. Joseph’s Jon Prutting, and its fifth possession ended as the fourth quarter clock expired.

Even in overtime, with the ball spotted at its own 10, St. Joseph continued to shut down the Darien attack. The Cadets forced the Wave to settle for a 25-yard field goal attempt that never got off the ground in the first overtime, and they got a turnover on downs by forcing three straight incomplete passes in double overtime to seal the game.

Seven straight Darien possessions and no points? That’s something that conceivably may not happen again this season, and it’s a testament to a strong second half effort by the entire St. Joseph defensive unit.

Kicking on third down: After Darien was unable to score on its overtime-opening possession, St. Joseph only needed a field goal to pull out the win. Two running plays moved the ball to the Darien four, setting up a third-and-goal and a difficult decision for St. Joseph coach Joe Della Vecchia.

Della Vecchia opted to send out his field goal unit for a 21-yard chip shot for the victory, but the kick sailed wide left. Della Vecchia had watched kicker Jake Pelletier make all four (eventually five) of his extra points dead center. As a result, Della Vecchia passed on the opportunity to run one more play from the Darien four, and the missed kick produced double overtime.

Despite the miscue, the Cadets never wavered in their belief that the day would eventually be theirs.

“I just believed that we were going to pull through. We were playing so good on defense late in the game and I just believed in our kids,” Della Vecchia said. “The offense said they were going to score. You’ve got to have confidence in them.”

St. Joseph’s resiliency: It would have been easy for the Cadets to believe they were “playing with house money” on Saturday. That is, a win over Darien would be a great accomplishment, but even a competitive loss would have reaffirmed that St. Joseph had turned the page on last season’s disappointments. It was obvious right from the start that this wasn’t a team that was looking for a moral victory by keeping it close.

St. Joseph shook off multiple setbacks that could have been the back-breaker for a lesser team. The Cadets allowed Darien to take a 21-14 lead into the locker rooms after a 61-yard touchdown run by Christian Bognar with only 57 seconds remaining in the half, Darien scored 22 consecutive points to turn St. Joseph’s 14-6 lead into a 28-14 deficit, and St. Joseph missed the potential game-ending 21-yard field goal in the first overtime.

“We all stuck it out. I never had my doubts. I kept my faith. These players will never stop fighting,” Basir said.

Sean Patrick Bowley