Sean Patrick Bowley
Special to CIACsports.com
STAMFORD – The ballyhooed No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown in the Class LL semifinals turned out to be no contest. It was Darien in a landslide.
Second-seeded and No. 2-ranked Blue Wave obliterated Southington 49-7 at Boyle Stadium Monday night, ending the two-time defending champions reign and its 31-game win streak, while propelling itself to a third-consecutive state final.
From the opening whistle, it was all Darien. Southington fumbled on its first two possessions and it was off to the races for the Blue Wave.
“No,” Darien coach Rob Trifone said when asked if he’d ever dreamed his team would win that big. “I mean, who beats any good team 49-7 much less Southington.
“I think those two big fumbles early on. They got rattled and our kids got just the opposite. They got riled up and started flying all over the place. I think if you take those two fumbles away, it’s a different ballgame.”
Darien, the 11-0 FCIAC Champions, will face Shelton (12-0) in the Class LL championship game Saturday 2:30 p.m. at West Haven. Darien will be looking for its first state final since 1996. It lost in its last two trips to the Class L final to rival New Canaan.
“We’re not surprised,” Darien senior defensive end Mark Evanchick said of the rout. “We knew we could figure them out on film. They weren’t complex. Like, New Canaan, they’re very complex. The fact that we figured these out is great.”
Hudson Hamill caught three touchdown passes from Tim Graham while Darien’s defense, led by Evanchick and the lights-out secondary, had a monster day. They sacked Southington’s UConn-bound quarterback approximately six times and held him to just 13-of-31 passing for 185 yards. Rose wound up rushing for just 7 yards and a touchdown late in the game.
“Hey, they’re a great team right there,” Southington coach Mike Drury said. “I got to give a lot of respect to them and their players. They play hard. Our guys fought. We were in a hole in the beginning and it gets out out of the things you want to do. But they’re a great team, though. And they beat us today.”
Graham, meanwhile, had all day to throw. He completed 20-for-28 for 191 yards and five touchdowns. He was intercepted once. And when Darien wanted to run the ball, it did that, too. Shelby Grant ran for 21 carries for 186 yards and game-defining 80-yarder late in the game.
Southington didn’t help itself. It fumbled on its first two possessions of the game and Darien quickly cashed in for an early 14-0 lead on touchdown passes from Graham to Rock Stewart and Shelby Grant.
Graham added two more touchdown passes to Hamill in the second quarter. The second came after Evanchick and Quinlin Fay sacked Rose on a fourth-and-1 at Southington’s 40.
In the third quarter, after Hamill made it 35-0 on a 5-yard touchdown pass, Darien’s Mark Schmidt picked off Rose on a batted pass in the end zone. On the very next play, Grant bolted 80 yards for a 42-0 lead.
“I knew we would dominate, but I thought we would give up a few big plays. Because I watched so much film on them. [Rose] breaks a run [Alessioa Diana] and [Vance Upham] and I said to my D-linemen: ‘Look you’re going to give up two big plays. Just be ready for them.'” And… we didn’t.”
Hamill finished seven catches 98 yards three touchdowns.
Darien 49 Southington 7
Darien 14 13 7 21 — 49
Southington 0 0 0 7 — 7
D — Rock Stewart 15 yards from Timmy Graham (Riley Stewart kick good)
D — Shelby Grant 3 yards from Graham (Kick good)
D — Hudson Hamill 17 yards from Graham (Kick good)
D — Hamill 21 yards from Graham (Kick good)
D — Hamill 5 yards from Graham (Kick good)
D — 80 yard run by Grant (Kick good)
D — 11 yard run Max Grant (Kick good)
S — 8 yard run Jasen Rose (Brandon Kohl kick good)