Ridgefield's state hopes take hit with 26-21 loss to Greenwich

If the Ridgefield High football team is going to make the state playoffs for a second straight season, some breaks will need to go its way.

Fortune definitely didn't favor the Tigers on Saturday afternoon, as Ridgefield suffered a frustrating 26-21 loss to unbeaten Greenwich at Greenwich High School.

With the loss, the Tigers dropped to 5-3 and slipped to 15th in the Class LL state point rankings. The top-eight teams at the end of the regular season advance to the playoffs.

Although Ridgefield is not mathematically eliminated, its qualifying chances are slim. The Tigers need to win their final two games — at home against Fairfield Warde (4-4) and Danbury (1-7) — and hope that several teams currently ranked above them stumble down the stretch.

After trailing 13-0 at halftime on Saturday, Ridgefield opened the third quarter with two touchdowns to go ahead, 14-13. But Greenwich answered with two straight scores to retake a 26-14 lead with 11:01 left in the final quarter.

Following a punt by each team, the Tigers got the ball back at their own 20-yard line with just over seven minutes left. Quarterback Greg Gatto then completed six-of-seven passes (three to Aidan Schwartz), moving Ridgefield to the Greenwich five-yard line. From there, Gatto threw a touchdown pass to Matt Lombardo and Harry Woodger added the extra point to cut Greenwich's lead to 26-21 with 5:17 remaining.

But the Tigers didn't get the ball back.

Greenwich converted two big third-down plays on completions from quarterback Gavin Muir to Jael Negron and then moved the chains again on Tysen Comizio's one-yard run on a fourth and one from the 50-yard line with under two minutes to play.

With Ridgefield out of timeouts, the Cardinals used three more running plays to run out the clock and improve their record to 7-0.

The must frustrating sequence for the Tigers came late in the opening half. Down 10-0, Ridgefield recovered a Muir fumble at the Greenwich 33-yard line with under three minutes left before the break. A 30-yard pass from Gatto to Luke Gaydos moved Ridgefield to the Cardinals' three-yard line, but two penalties pushed the Tigers back to the 18.

Gaydos then appeared to catch Gatto's pass in the back of the end zone before a Greenwich defensive back knocked the ball loose. After initially signaling a touchdown, the officials ruled the pass incomplete. Woodger's subsequent 22-yard field goal attempt hit the upright, leaving the Tigers scoreless.

The Cardinals capitalized, getting a 43-yard field goal from Zach Moore on the final play of the half.

Ridgefield received the second-half kickoff and went on a nine-play, 77-yard scoring drive that was aided by two Greenwich penalties. Gatto connected with Jackson Mitchell for gains of 26 and seven yards before hitting Evan Wein on an eight-yard touchdown pass. Woodger's extra point pulled the Tigers within 13-7.

After Greenwich's second punt of the third quarter, Ridgefield took over at the Cardinals' 43-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Gatto fired a pretty 42-yard scoring pass to Mitchell. Woodger added the extra point to put the Tigers in front, 14-13, with 4:21 left in the period.

Greenwich responded with a 20-yard TD run by Tysen Comizio but failed to convert a pass on the two-point try, taking a 19-13 lead with 3:10 left in the third quarter.

On Ridgefield's ensuing possession, Gatto was hit while throwing a pass and the fluttering ball was intercepted by Tyler Blizzard. Five plays later, Comizio ran two yards for a touchdown, extending Greenwich's lead to 26-14 early in the fourth quarter.

Notes: Unofficially, Gatto completed 28-of-44 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns.

Mitchell was credited with seven receptions for 116 yards, while Gaydos had four catches for 65 yards.

Mitchell also intercepted a pass for the Tigers.

Gatto was sacked six times for a combined loss of 40 yards. Four of those sacks came during the first half.

Greenwich was penalized 13 times for 115 yards.