van Dell, Hand holds off Fairfield Prep

MADISON >> Hand quarterback Nick van Dell often displays the poise of an upperclassman. Occasionally, one can tell he’s still a sophomore.

Both occurred during the same series in the fourth quarter against Fairfield Prep Friday.

Instead of throwing the ball away, van Dell took a sack, which resulted in an 11-yard loss. On the very next play, van Dell connected with senior Tom Wilson on 3rd-and-long for a 76-yard touchdown pass to put the Tigers up by two scores.

That strike ended up being the difference in the Tigers’ 35-27 victory over the Jesuits, ranked No. 8 in the Register Top 10 Poll, in this Southern Connecticut Conference Division I contest at the Surf Club.

Fairfield Prep (4-2) scored on the ensuing possession, but Hand (5-1) was able to run the clock out and emerge victorious.

The Tigers have won five straight since losing to No. 2 New Canaan in the season opener. Van Dell has since taken over as his team’s starter and Hand has vastly improved because of his contributions.

“What I said to him were these exact words: ‘Do you know what makes a superstar?’” Hand coach Steve Filippone said.

“Somebody who can make a bonehead play, and then on the next play, totally forget it and come back and just do a miraculous thing, which is exactly what he did. How many sophomores can make that mistake, have me up their you-know-what and then come back and throw a 70-yard ball on the money for a touchdown to win the game?”

Said van Dell: “I was definitely a little (upset) taking that sack, I should’ve thrown it away. It was a stupid decision on my part. So I came back on the next play, didn’t really worry about the play before, just got over it, and threw it up to Tommy, who made an amazing catch.”

Van Dell completed 18 of 23 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns.

“Nick’s a playmaker; he loves making plays,” Wilson said. “He never wants to go out of bounds, he never wants to give up on a play. He took a sack, he took a hard hit. We came out with a big play call; give Coach (offensive coordinator Eric Becker) credit for that. Nick threw me up a ball I caught it and scored.”

The Tigers led 28-6 entering the final quarter before Fairfield Prep began to rally. Senior Nick Crowle scored on two short touchdown runs and caught a two-point conversion pass from junior Colton Smith to cut the Hand lead to 28-20 with 8:08 remaining.

After van Dell’s long touchdown pass to Wilson, the Jesuits again responded when Smith connected with Jake Buckley on a 9-yard touchdown pass. The Jesuits, though, couldn’t stop Hand on a third down on the Tigers’ 35 and Hand proceeded to run out the clock.

Two first-half turnovers, in addition to a breakdown on special teams, proved costly for Fairfield Prep.

“They scored 14 points without their offense being on the field,” Fairfield Prep coach Tom Shea said. “We played a great second half, but a miserable first half and the misery trumped the goodness and we lost the game.”

The Jesuits fumbled on the game’s third play and Hand’s Dan Rogers returned it for a 25-yard touchdown. On the next drive, Smith scored on a 3-yard run, but the extra point was no good and Hand led 7-6.

Wilson then returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. Conor Dowd scored on a 6-yard run and Wilson caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from van Dell in the second quarter to give the Tigers a 28-6 lead at halftime.
Wilson made seven receptions for 177 yards and two scores.

“Extraordinary football player,” Filippone said about Wilson. “Great courage and heart, tremendous athletic ability as well. He’s a great, great football player.”

Hand 35, Fairfield Prep 27
(at Madison)
Fair. Prep 6 0 0 21 — 27
Hand 14 14 0 7 — 35
First quarter
H—Dan Rogers 25 fumb ret (Tyler Phan kick)
F—Colton Smith 3 run (kick failed)
H—Tom Wilson 85 kickoff ret (Phan kick)
Second quarter
H—Conor Dowd 6 run (Phan kick)
H—Tom Wilson 25 pass from Nick Van Dell (Phan kick)
Fourth quarter
F—Nick Crowle 2 run (pass failed)
F—Nick Crowle 1 run (Crowle pass from Smith)
H—Tom Wilson 76 pass from Nick Van Dell (Phan kick)
F—Jake Buckley 9 pass from Colton Smith (Sean Morrison kick)
Team records: Hand 5-1; Fairfield Prep 4-2


  1. RAY BROWN says

    hand is well coached——they lost by 40 to new caanan,and handled prep this years scc “big dog”—if hand runs table filippone should be coach of year.prep? you did win yale summer camp—-whoopee

  2. handcrazy says

    Rayray, if I recall right, somebody said Hand looked the best at the Yale camp and that Prep, WH and Hand dominated Ansonia. How about the SWC dominating the NVL? tell us again about your tough schedule…snore, zzzzzzz

    • bgarf says

      And for the hat trick:

      Ansonia brought 20 kids so many JVs played and Newsome didn’t even attend the camp…but yeah, keep bringing it up.

  3. RAY BROWN says

    spb—–actually it was 8-6——-derby lost swing game,
    hand crazy you dont win championships at yale summer camp———oooooooooooooooooo——-those are 18 rings——not one won at yale camp
    p.s.——–hand doesnt want new caanan again

  4. Bubba says

    Hand would love to play NC again, not making a statement that they would beat them, but they want to improve there effort. Hand plays the best schedule in CT Football, argue that! NC would not go undefeated in the SCC, FCIAC is notorious for creating a schedule for their teams to be represented in the CIAC tournament. Hand has Shelton, Xavier, West Haven, and ND left in their schedule. Shut the front door

  5. TigerPride says

    Hand doesn’t want your respect. Keep picking against us. We love it. Lost like 3 games in the last 4 years. We want NC again, of coarse we do. We crave to play the best that’s why we are in the SCC and chose to play NC in the first place.
    By the way there Ray, Ansonia is so soft that their great players like Rb don’t go to Yale camp because their coaches know the dogs from the SCC would hurt them

  6. Hand Fan says

    Really confused whether Ray Brown is a Hand Fan or a Hand Hater at this point…..Either way Hand has the hardest schedule in the state hands down (no pun intended). They had to play NH when they were ranked, No. 8 Prep, No. 2 New Cannan, No. 10 Xavier, a very good West Haven team that definitely deserves to be in the top 10, and a Shelton team that has been in the top 10 for a few weeks this season.

  7. jeb says

    They are already errecting a statue for Coach Fillipone if Hand pulls out a state tournament birth. No matter how one feels about the Daniel Hand program they are class all the way and always put out a great effort.

  8. don says

    As a father of a ND football player, my son told me the Hand kids are hard hitting no nonsense kids. They do their talking on the field, always did, and always will. Ciotti and Filippone arre top notch people

Leave a Reply