NORWALK — Edon just couldn’t find an answer for Cam Caizzo.
Norwalk St. Paul’s senior running back scored five touchdowns, accounting for all of the Flyers’ scores, leading the Flyers to a 35-21 win over Edon in a Division VII, Region 26 quarterfinal on Saturday night.
The Bombers got off to a solid start on defense, as they forced the Flyers to punt on their opening series. Edon (7-4) squandered the opportunity though. The Bombers’ first play from scrimmage was a screen pass that went for negative-4 yards, and the second was an interception by St. Paul’s Adam Baker.
St. Paul (9-2) would get on the board on the ensuing series. After a completion from Myron Stoll to Lars Livengood got the Flyers out of a 4th-and-5 situation, St. Paul found itself in the red zone. A few plays later, Caizzo punched one in from 2 yards out for his first score of the night.
Edon mounted a solid drive on its next series, but it was halted by another interception by quarterback Drew Gallehue, this time on a deep ball that was tipped in the air and eventually collected by Stoll.
“Honestly, the first pick was just an amazing play by (Baker),” Edon coach Scott Staten said. “He jumped our slant route. It was a heck of a play. Then, the second pick was a third-and-long, so we took a shot down the sideline. I don’t think it was anything (St. Paul) was doing. They’re a good defense.”
Edon got the ball back two plays later when Caizzo fumbled and mounted a long drive, but turned the ball over on downs at the St. Paul 17-yard line. Eleven plays and 83 yards later, Caizzo took a carry 4 yards into the end zone for his second touchdown of the night, giving the Flyers a 14-0 advantage.
Edon didn’t go away, something that would become a theme as the night wore on. The Bombers got the ball on their own 49-yard line after a long kickoff return from Kelby Sapp. Edon marched down the field, eventually culminating in a 1-yard plunge from Dylan Mason to reduce the deficit to 14-6 heading into halftime.
“This group, their ability to handle adversity, I think it’s a testament to them,” Staten said. “In a playoff atmosphere, a very tough atmosphere, against a football team that’s had a lot of success, we handled that punch. We were down 14-0. We battled back to get back within a touchdown. The fight that our kids showed tonight is something that I think is admirable.”
After Edon went three-and-out on the opening drive of the second half, St. Paul started a drive on its own 36-yard line. The Flyers then went 64 yards in 14 plays over 7:05 of game time. Caizzo picked up his third score of the day, this one from 6 yards out, to give St. Paul a 21-6 lead. Caizzo carried the ball nine times for 39 yards on that drive alone.
“We were decimated defensively,” Staten said. “We had three guys who got banged up defensively. We had to play some inexperienced guys and didn’t have an answer for their off-tackle play. (Caizzo) runs hard. He’s a super physical kid.”
Just when it seemed St. Paul was giving itself some breathing room, Edon senior Chase Reed picked up a bouncing ball on the ensuing kickoff and returned it about 75 yards untouched for a touchdown. Gallehue barreled over two St. Paul defenders on the 2-point conversion attempt to give the Bombers a second wind and a 21-14 deficit.
It also hyped up a rowdy Edon crowd that had traveled two hours to the game.
“The atmosphere was great,” Staten said. “Chase Reed is an unbelievable football player. We’re going to miss him. That kickoff return for a touchdown electrified this place and breathed life back into our team.”
After the teams traded punts, St. Paul found the end zone again with its first drive of the fourth quarter, as Caizzo fell into the end zone from 11 yards out to make it 28-14 in favor of the Flyers.
Edon responded, though, with a seven-play, 61-yard drive capped off by a 5-yard touchdown run from Gallehue to reduce the gap to 28-21. The drive was also highlighted by a couple of big completions — one of 20 yards to Sapp and one of 24 yards to Ethan Steinke.
The wind was quickly knocked out of the Bombers’ sails, however, as a 51-yard run from Caizzo set the Flyers up inside the Edon 5-yard line. He would punch it in from 2 yards out two plays later, giving him his fifth touchdown of the night and preserving a 35-21 win for St. Paul.
Even though it didn’t end the way they wanted it to, Staten said his group of graduating seniors can be proud of the mark they left on Edon football.
“This senior class has been a really good class,” Staten said. “They’re a bunch of gamers. They love football. They play really hard. They started 0-2 (this season) when they had aspirations to go undefeated. … For those things to happen in the first few weeks and keep fighting for six weeks and to give St. Paul all they could handle tonight, I’m happy with that.”