Class L: Last-second field goal propels Darien past Hand

NORWALK >> Darien coach Rob Trifone called it a championship drive.

The top-seeded Blue Wave took over at their own 29 with five minutes remaining, down one against No. 8 Hand in the Class L state quarterfinals.

Darien methodically drove down the field, using a mix of runs and passes and effectively managing the clock. On the 13th play of the drive, on 4th-and-1 at the Tigers’ 3 with just five seconds on the clock, Trifone brought in kicker Daly Hebert.

After a Hand penalty, the ball was placed near the 1. Hebert’s kick was perfect, and it sent Darien to the semifinals with a dramatic 31-29 victory Tuesday at Casagrande Field on the campus of McMahon High.

The Blue Wave didn’t win the Class L title just yet, but Darien sure kept its championship dreams intact.
“It was a championship drive against a very good team,” Trifone said. “We have been resilient all year long. That last drive of the game kind of epitomizes what this team is about.”

Hand, the two-time defending champion in this class, finishes 8-4.

Hebert also made field goals of 26 and 25 yards in the contest.

“I told him all year long, I said, ‘Daly, you’re going to win a game for us some day. I don’t know how and I don’t know when.’ Of course it had to be a state quarterfinal,” Trifone said.

Said Hebert: “It’s a great experience for me. I dreamed about this since I was a little kid.”

Darien (12-1), which stunned previously unbeaten and then-No. 1 New Canaan on Thanksgiving, will face No. 4 Middletown in Saturday’s semifinals at 2 p.m. at Pomperaug High in Southbury.

Hand, which took a 29-28 lead on a 2-yard run by Dan Rogers on the possession before the Blue Wave’s winning drive, just couldn’t make a stop on Darien’s final possession.

“That’s all we had to do was stop them,” Hand coach Steve Filippone said. “But I think once they got it in (the red zone), that kicker’s leg is so good. Once they crossed midfield we started to burn timeouts and try to figure out how to get the ball back. It was a valiant effort by our kids. They played so hard tonight, and they played so hard all year long.”

After Hebert made a 26-yard field goal to put Darien up 3-0 in the first quarter, Hand responded and took the lead. Reid Sweitzer returned an interception 35 yards for a touchdown and then, later in the quarter, Tommy Wilson scored on a 54-yard run to give the Tigers a 14-3 lead.

The second quarter belonged to the Blue Wave. Darien recorded a safety and Jay Harrison and quarterback Silas Wyper scored on touchdown runs as the Blue Wave led 19-14 at the intermission. Jack Tyrell recovered a fumble for Darien which led to the final score of the first half.

“We just made too many mistakes in like a five-minute period,” Filippone said. “The fumble, the safety; just mistakes you can’t make in this caliber game.”

Hebert’s 25-yard field goal gave the Blue Wave a 22-14 lead in the third quarter, but Hand rallied. A 2-yard touchdown run by Rogers and Conor Dowd’s two-point conversion run tied the game at 22 with 1:27 left in the third quarter.

But Wyper connected with Nick Lombardo on a 66-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the ensuing possession. Hebert’s extra point was no good, and the Blue Wave led 28-22.

In the fourth quarter, Rogers scored on a 4-yard run and Tyler Phan’s point after temporarily gave the Tigers a 29-28 lead before Darien’s winning drive.

Despite the final outcome, Filippone was pleased with his team’s effort this season. The Tigers avoided a rebuilding season even after the graduation of 30 seniors. The young Tigers were demolished by New Canaan in the season opener, but then won six in a row to put themselves in position to return to the postseason.
“We’re very proud of them,” Filippone said.

Wyper completed 23 of 32 passes for 319 yards and one touchdown and overcame three interceptions to help lead his team to victory. Harrison rushed 18 times for 78 yards, while Wyper rushed 12 times for 64 yards.
“Right now we’re real happy,” Wyper said.


Darien 31, Hand 29
(at Norwalk)
Hand 14 0 8 7 0 — 29
Darien 3 16 9 3 0 — 31
First quarter
D—Daly Hebert 26 FG
H—Reid Sweitzer 35 int ret (Tyler Phan kick)
H—Tommy Wilson 54 run (Phan kick)
Second quarter
D—Hand tackled in end zone safety
D—Jay Harrison 13 run (Hebert kick)
D—Silas Wyper 1 run (Hebert kick)
Third quarter
D—Daly Hebert 25 FG
H—Dan Rogers 2 run (Dowd run)
D—Nicholas Lombardo 66 pass from Silas Wyper (kick failed)
Fourth quarter
H—Dan Rogers 4 run (Phan kick)
D—Daly Hebert 18 FG
Team records: Darien 11-1; Hand 8-4.


  1. mooncake says

    Hand scored 14 pts off two interceptions. One for a pick six, the other to the Darien 4 yd line. Yes, Hand fumbled on its own 4 yd line for a darien score. But lets be honest…Darien was the better team and showed it on its last drive. I think most at the game would say that Darien deserved to win. It was shocking to me it was as close as it was. I bet total yards were 3 to 1 in favor of darien.

    Hand hung around and played very fundamental football. While Darien plays loosy goosey. I still think Darien’s style of play will get them into trouble at some point over the next one or two games.

    • D Money says

      I will be a different story Saturday against Middletown. Get ready for old school football. Middletown will run, and their defense will stop the run. Middletown’s defense does not only tackle, they hit (old school).

  2. Stephen says

    Not sure what game you were watchiung Hand missed two fieldgoals 25 and 26 they usually make, the kicker has been solid all year except for tonight. Hand safety was bad play call a draw which allowed them in the backfield. Yards were even. Hand could have easily won, Darien just got the ball last and ran out the clock. Enjoy it because Hand will be back with their Sophomore QB and young team more mature next year.

  3. mac says

    OUCH that one hurt But loosing 30 seniors this year Hand made madison proud. They were winners even before last nite. great job coach phil

  4. Kyle says

    How can you say Darien deserved to win if they had two bad interceptions like they did.

    Feel bad for the Hand kids I watched the game on Twitter while at the Ansonia game. Congrats to Hand on a great year, if what I hear is that they’re all juniors then watch out next year!

  5. JB says

    Great high school football game. Two battle tested, worthy state playoff teams. Hand realy improved during the year. Both teams return a ton of juniors for next year, so expect them to meet again in the 2014 playoffs. Maybe in the finals.

    Middletown will present big issues for Darien, but should be an interesting contrast in styles and another super playoff game.

  6. jeb says

    Great game between Hand and Darien. Both solid programs but in my opinion Darien did dominate the game. Hand did have one nice drive but other than that they had one long run and two pass interceptions was their entire offense. Hand will be back and will dominate the high school scene the next two years. They open up at home against New Canaan, ( that game won’t be a cakewalk for Hand by no means) then the entire SCC schedule.
    In regards to the tech schools.please CIAC have them form their own will be better for them and the other schools that didn’t qualify for the tourney.

    • says

      Jeb, they were inside Darien’s 10 5x.. only one was a pick that gave it to them at the 5. the other 4 were drives. Darien certainly outgained Hand in yardage, but I disagree wholeheartedly on the “dominate” statement. Both had a long TD, both were inside the 10-20 5x each, each got a gift TD.. Hand picked off 3 vs none for Darien. Hand missed 2 chippy FG’s and Darien made 3.. sounds like a close game all around

  7. mooncake says

    Stephen, no way the yards were equal. no way. I’m sure Darien had a 3 to 1 advantage in total yards. I’m not a Darien fan at all. Yes Fciac, but not Darien. Hand was lucky to be as close as they were. If anyones knows where to find game stats, I would love to know.

    As for Middletown, their dbacks better be top quality. Darien only runs to set up the pass. They will throw the ball 80% of the time. When they are not throwing they look like they are unhappy, coaches and kids. Lots of screens or 20-30 yrds downfield. Middletown will need two interceptions if the want to win. And believe me, there will be chances to intercept the Dairen QB.

    All of Hands running yrds were on sweeps or getting to the edge. Up the middle nothing. If Middletown expects to run up the middle I would like to see it.

    Should be a great game like last night. Can’t decide between Darien/Middletown or NC/NH. When in doubt pick the SCC game. You always get a good game.

    • D Money says


      Middletown’s secondary is fast and physical. Dario Highsmith is a D-1 athlete at corner. Darien’s receivers are going to get hit hard and often. Make no mistake, Middletown is not a finess team.

    • says

      Mooncake.. sorry man, but you are smoking something.. First of all, Darien is a good team, as is Hand. They both played hard and both had some huge plays that greatly factored into the game. We had tipped balls for big gains, ints, pick six, safety, a bomb for a TD, 2 short FGs missed and 3 made.. but nobody dominated anyone.. Yes Darien had more yards, but not by 3-1. Wyper threw for 317, but had 3 ints. You have to factor that into any analysis, you can’t just say wow look at all these yards.. you live by the sword, you die by the sword. On the flip side, Hand threw for 151 and had 160 yds rushing. Darien had around 130 yds rushing once you add in the negatives for the sacks, so they outgained Hand 447-311 and they also had an extra possession due to the pick six. So, hats off to Darien, they did what Hand did to 3 others this season (Hillhouse, Shelton and NDWH) which is win a game in the final seconds. So, good luck Darien rest of the way, but anyone thinking this was anything more than a battle to the bitter end with either side deserving of winning is clueless.

      • says

        to add to this.. Hand had the pick 6, a 54 yd run for a TD and was inside Darien’s 10yd line 5 other times (2 td’s, 2 missed fg and turnover on downs). Darien was inside Hand’s 20 5x (2 tds and 3fgs) and had the 66 yd TD. So, to say one team dominated the other is completely asinine.. You can’t get any closer than this as far as true scoring chances. Also, Hand punted better so Darien had longer fields to cover and Hand had a very good kick return of 43 yds near the end of the half which gave it good field position. Not Hand’s fault Hebert shanked a punt which gave us the ball at their 40. We can only get the yds we need to score..

        • Marty says

          Not sure what punt was “shanked”. Hebert kicked from his goal line and ball hit on the Hand 45 and bounced back to the 40. Both teams were unlucky at times, made some poor decisions and mental errors. That said 2 of Wyper’s ints went through the hands of his receivers and how many of his passes were on target to open recievers and were dropped (5)? It was a great high school game where the offenses, defenses and special teams all played an important role in the outcome of the game. But Darien will have to minimize mental mistakes and turnovers to get through the next round.

          • says

            Perhaps shanked is a little harsh, but the line of scrimmage was the 18, so it was a 22 yd punt, not exactly what he or anyone would consider a good punt and it gave Hand great field position. My point on that wasn’t to bust Heberts chops but to point out ydg differencial can be misleading. Also only 1 int touched a Darien player and he was hit as the ball got there, the Pick six was clean and still not sure what Wyper was doing throwing the screen pick as that went right to Atwater and only a lineman was close by.. Lombardo did drop at least 3 balls and few other were dropped though so I agree they will need to clean that up to move forward. In the end it was a great game and both sides should be proud of the effort. Also it was nice to see another team that acted with class throughout the game. New Canaan was the same. Good programs, good ethics.. nice to see

        • mooncake says

          Stephen, thanks for your excellent posts and I did smoke a cigar before so maybe the nic got to me.

          Now…except for the hand td run in the first half what other yards did hand get in the first half? You are privy to the stats (I can’t find them) so I believe you. Seemed much more of a discrepancy than your numbers show.

          Also I will say that hand was a real classy team. First time I’ve seen them play. They swarm to be ball on defense better than any team I’ve seen all year.

          Top SCC teams are the gold standard. No doubt. We fciac, and my staples, know hard it is to beat them. Look forward to more competition in the future.

          • says

            First half was a larger discrepancy.. Since Hand scored on the 54 yd run and had a pick six and had 4 3 and outs, a fumble plus the safety, they only had around 130 yds first half. I don’t have Darien’s stats by half, but I have to assume they did 250+ first half and then yds were pretty equal in the 2nd half. They did have the drive at the end of the first half where they missed a FG (37 yds on that drive as the KOR was for 43 yds to Darien 49). Darien had more yds but the 2 ints hurt them big. Both teams found ways to get the other back in the game. Hand only had the ball 5x in the 2nd half and they went Punt, FGA Blocked, TD, Drive to Darien 9 stalled, 4th down INC, TD.

  8. jeb says

    Marty.You are dead wrong about the interceptions. Wyper ‘s first one hit off a Darien player and Hand intercepted. His second pass went right to a Hand defender and he took it to the house.His third interception went right to a hand player ( their was no one else around) and the hand player took it the four yard line. He did not have a good game.

  9. Bubba says

    The game was decided by 2 points. How is that dominate. Did you forget the other phases of the game, it’s not just offense. All round teams were even.

  10. Mr. D says

    I’m a hand fan and I feel the game was equal but we received a huge break when the officials made an error and gave the ball to us at the Darien 30 yard line. We ran the hook and ladder where the ball is thrown to the wide receiver and he interns laterals it to the back coming out of the backfield. our receiver caught the ball and then laterraled it to the back. The back was tackled hard , the ball came free and Darien recovered. After a brief discussion the official ruled an incomplete pass which was wrong. We however failed to capitalize as a short field goal try was missed. If we made that field goal and we ended up winning by two points then all hell would have broken loose. Does anyone out there remember that play

    • says

      The ref’s actually said it was an inadvertent whistle and before anyone had recovered the ball so they actually replayed the down. it was still 1st and 10. But, yes, it was a catch and a fumble.. the 2nd Hand player (Tom Wilson) actually tripped before getting the ball from Josh DeMartino which caused the fumble. It was a break for sure.. one of many for both teams on the night and since Hand missed the FG, no damage was done. Many thought Scott Sweitzer had an INT they called hit the ground and that Hand had recovered the KO that bounced all over and they gave that to Darien. On film its tough to see and reality is ref’s are human and no team gets every call.

  11. johnnybaccala says


    I was sitting with the Hand fans and we all new it was a fumble but in all honesty the official was “too close” to the play and didn’t get a good look at it. Why the other officials didn’t overturn it we will never know.

  12. Game Spectator says

    I’m sorry Stephen McIntyre, I have to agree with mooncake and Jeb. Darien was really the much better team. I agree with you in that Darien did not dominate the game. They played a very poor game. If they play like they did again, they will be in trouble vs. NC (granted they make it).

    With that said, Darien’s O-line and D-line dominated the LOS. See some of the sacks and the safety for the D-Line and the time Wyper had on the deep TD above.
    Darien had very sloppy tackling, which is not typical of them. Watch the 50 yard TD run as an exhibit. There was an atrocious attempt at a tackle.
    Wyper played a poor game as well which hasn’t happened since St. Joes. The pick on the screen was bizarre to say the least and the pick six throw was poor. A lot went wrong for Darien (and I am not one to ascribe this to luck – you create your own luck which Hand did)

    With all that said, Hand played a very good game (and are very well coached). Darien jumped on obvious hard count situations. Hand went for it on fourth at the appropriate times (although they didn’t get them all). They just came up short and it really showed on the methodical, last drive when Darien got their act together. Football is about consistency as well and Darien did not have that, while Hand did. On any given Sunday a team can win and Hand played a very good team and almost won. Regardless, Darien is the more talented team.

  13. Derpytank says

    I thought Darien was supposed to only be a .500 team this year and yet their number 1 in the Class L state playoffs. Here’s the thing Middletown looks good as a paper dragon, but there just paper. I don’t think this game will be a blowout but I think Darien will win. And no I’m not a Darien fan but I am a fan of the FCIAC sports…..

Leave a Reply