GREENWICH — It was the first time all year the Greenwich football team has really been tested, and while coach John Marinelli wasn’t thrilled with his team’s performance — he’ll take it.

Ridgefield rallied late, but the Cardinals held on for a 26-21 victory at home Saturday.

“We need to be in games like that,” Marinelli said. “You’re facing a team that’s do or die, they’re not going to stop. They know what it’s like to get to the big game and lose, so they’re not going to quit and I give them credit, they gave us everything we could handle and more.”

With two of the FCIAC’s most prolific offenses facing off in on a clear fall night, it was easy to expect fireworks.

So, naturally, four minutes into the third quarter the two teams had combined for just 13 points. Those all came in the first half on a 49-yard pass from Gavin Muir (21-34, 261 yards, one touchdown) to Elias Gianopoulos and two field goals off the foot of Zachary Moore, one from 39 and one 43 as time expired in the second quarter.

“The margin of error is very small playing a good team,” Ridgefield coach Kevin Callahan said. “We made too many mistakes in the first half and never overcame them.”

Ridgefield did get on track in the third when quarterback Greg Gatto fired touchdown passes on back-to-back drives, first to Evan Wein from eight yards out, then a beautiful 42-yard fade to Jackson Mitchell to take a 14-13 lead.

Greenwich, however, answered right back, retaking the lead on Tysen Comizio’s 20-yard run following a 53-yard pass from Muir to Henry Saleeby on third and long.

The Cardinal defense stepped up on the ensuing drive when a Finbar Doyle hit forced an errant pass that Tyler Blizzard picked off.

Comizio made it count, scoring from 2 yards out to take a 26-14 lead early in the fourth.

Gatto (28-44, 285 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT) then engineered a long scoring drive, culminating in a 6-yard touchdown to Matt Lombardo to make it a one-score game. The Cardinal offense was able to chew up the final five-plus minutes off the clock, with Muir converting on two third downs and one fourth.

“On that final drive, we knew that this was our ‘championship drive,’ ” Muir said. “If we wanted to make a run at states, this was our drive so we just did what we do in practice.”

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Mosi Bici, Greewich. The junior defensive end was everywhere you looked Saturday, recording 31/2 sacks, 21/2 tackles for loss and added two more on special teams.

A LOT FOR NOTHING

With two and a half minutes left in the first half, Ridgefield drove to the Greenwich 1-yard line. What followed was a negative run, a holding penalty and a false start.

All seemed forgiven when Gatto hit Luke Gaydos for a touchdown, but it was waved off.

After a personal foul on Greenwich on third down, Ridgefield attempted a 22-yard field goal, but Harry Woodger’s attempt hit the post.

QUOTABLE

“Last year, it seemed everything went our way and this year a lot of things are going against us,” Callahan said. “Kids are preserving and being resilient and trying to overcome, but we know what was on the line here. But if they’re No. 2 in the state, we’re right around there; if we get in, God help it. People beat us but no one beat us down, if we get an opportunity to be in those states I think we’ll be pretty successful.”

aparelli@bcnnew.com @reportedbytheAP

GREENWICH 26, RIDGEFIELD 21

RIDGEFIELD 0 0 14 7—21

GREENWICH 10 3 6 7—26

G—Elias Gianopoulos 49 pass Gavin Muir (Zachary Moore kick)

G—Moore 39 field goal

G—Moore 43 field goal

R—Evan Wein 8 pass Greg Gatto (Harry Woodger kick)

R—Jackson Mitchell 42 pass Gatto (Woodger kick)

G—Tysen Comizio 20 run (Moore kick)

G—Comizio 4 run (Moore kick)

R—Matt Lombardo 6 pass Gatto (Woodger kick)

Records: Ridgefield 5-3; Greenwich 7-0