New Canaan Football Rolls Over Ludlowe 48-6

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In a game where they were missing two of their top playmakers due to injuries, the New Canaan Rams needed someone to step up.

Enter Graham Braden.

The senior running back scored four touchdowns—three on the ground and one in the air—as the No. 2 Rams (9-0) dismantled Fairfield Ludlowe 48-6 Friday night at Taft Field. New Canaan outgained the Falcons 506 to 125 in total offense, racking up 371 of those yards on the ground with Braden leading the way with 177 yards on 15 carries.

“It was great,” Braden told “The team philosophy is ‘next man up’ and I was glad to get a shot tonight and make the most of it.”

New Canaan was without the considerable services of senior co-captain Ryan O’Connell, who was sidelined with an ankle injury suffered last week against Trumbull, and sophomore Quintin O’Connell who had a minor hip injury. While the Rams expect the O’Connell brothers to both be at 100% in the near future, Braden was more than able to carry the load against Ludlowe, showcasing New Canaan’s depth at the skill positions.

“Graham is unbelieveable,” senior co-captain and offensive lineman Teddy Hood said. “Once we get him to the second level, we just let him do what he can do.”

Freshman quarterback Drew Pyne added 72 rushing yards with a touchdown while completing 10 of 16 passes for 100 yards and two scores. Sophomore J.R. Moore ran for 56 yards and a touchdown and four different New Canaan receivers—Braden, Justin Greco, Jack Rechtermann and Griffin Arnone—had three catches apiece.

Meanwhile, New Canaan’s defense turned in yet another impressive performance, holding Ludlowe to just 16 yards rushing and allowing only four first downs—even with the majority of their starters on the bench for most of the second half, as the Rams ran out to an early big lead.

“We’ve settled in on positions,” New Canaan head coach Lou Marinelli said. “We know who we are and what we want to do. We got a lot guys in who normally aren’t able to get that kind of time, so it was good for us.”

New Canaan set the tone on the opening defensive series, forcing a Ludlowe turnover on downs. Meanwhile, New Canaan’s offense immediately drove 70 yards in 11 plays for the game’s first score. Pyne capped off the drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Rechtermann for a 7-0 lead with 4:12 left in the first quarter.

New Canaan forced a Ludlowe three-and out on the next Falcons’ drive, and after a 15-yard punt return by junior Sean Knight was augmented by a Ludlowe holding penalty, the Rams found themselves set up at the 50-yard line. Four plays later, Pyne scrambled along the left sideline for a 24-yard touchdown run and a 14-0 lead.

After another Ludlowe three-and-out, Arnone took the ensuing punt 48 yards to the Falcons’ 19-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage Braden ran it into the end zone, extending the New Canaan lead to 20-0 just as the opening quarter came to a close.

New Canaan added a touchdown in the second quarter as Braden capped off a six-play, 55-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown run to put the Rams up 27-0.

Braden added a third touchdown on New Canaan’s opening drive of the second half as Pyne split the Ludlowe secondary, hitting Braden in stride for a 26-yard touchdown pass. New Canaan led 34-0 with 10:46 to play in the third quarter.

Ludlowe’s lone bright spot of the game came on the ensuing kickoff, as Aidan Kudzy’s 86-yard touchdown return cut the New Canaan lead to 34-6.

The Rams answered immediately with a seven-play, 60-yard scoring drive capped off by Braden’s fourth touchdown of the game—a 22-yard run that made it 41-6 New Canaan.

The Rams scored on their next offensive series as Moore ran it in from one yard out, extending New Canaan’s lead to 48-6 and capping off the scoring for a team that seems to solidify its identity with each passing week.

“I’m standing there and I’m watching ten guys around Braden when he scored his first or second touchdown,” Marinelli said. “It’s not like we tell them to do that. It’s just a natural thing. And I think these kids enjoy playing together and being together.”

Up next for the Rams is what is sure to be a monumental Thanksgiving showdown against the state’s top-ranked team—their undefeated arch-rival, the Darien Blue Wave.

“This is the game you look for every year,” Marinelli said. “Whether you’re 9-and-0 or 0-and-9. That’s the game that they want to win the most, it’s the game we want to win the most. I’m excited for it. It’s my favorite time of the year.”

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*NC - Jack Rechtermann 12-yd. pass from Drew Pyne (Grant Morse kick)
*NC - Pyne 24-yd. run (Morse kick)
*NC - Graham Braden 19-yd. run (Morse kick)
*NC - Braden 5-yd. run (PAT failed)
*NC - Braden 26-yd. pass from Pyne (Morse kick)
*L - Aidan Kudzy 86-yd. kick return (PAT failed)
*NC - Braden 22-yd. run (Morse kick)
*NC - J.R. Moore 1-yd. run (Morse kick)

Key Stats:

*Graham Braden: 15-177, 3 TD's rushing; 3-37, TD receiving
*Drew Pyne: 10-16, 100 yds. 2 TD, 1 INT passing; 4-72, TD rushing
*J.R. Moore: 7-56, TD rushing
*Jack Rechtermann: 3-29, TD receiving
*Total Offense: NC - 506, L - 125
*Rushing Yards: NC - 371, L - 16
*Third down conversions: NC - 4 for 9, L - 1 for 14
*First Downs: NC - 26; L - 4

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