STAMFORD >> Some of the names have changed, but the second verse was as same as the first in Darien’s and Southington’s Class LL semifinal rematch Monday night.
Behind a dominant effort by Michigan-bound two-way lineman Andrew Stueber and cohorts Quinn Fay, Cord Fox, Justin Plank and Sean O’Malley, top-seeded and defending champion Darien ripped Southington, 38-7, at Boyle Stadium Monday night at Boyle Stadium.
“Skill-wise they’re as good as anyone,” Darien coach Rob Trifone said of Southington (11-1). “But, up front, we though we were going to be able to handle them. I thought our O-line and D-line did a great job.”
Darien extended their state-best win streak to 24 games and punched the Blue Waves’ tickets back to the Class LL championship game. The Blue Wave will face Ridgefield in an All-FCIAC final Saturday, 2:30 p.m. at Ken Strong Stadium.
“When we were 13-0, state champions last year, I think people looked at our graduation list and were like, ah how are you gonna do it?” Trifone said. “…These guys stepped up. They worked very hard all season long and, obviously, you’re seeing the product.”
Finlay Collins scored two touchdowns and Darien’s defensive line sacked Southington quarterback seven times, three by Fay, as the Blue Wave inexorably
pulled away. “We weren’t blitzing, it was just four-man pressure,” Trifone said. “But of course those front four people are so darn good.”
Darien’s offense took every opportunity given to it. The Wave led 14-0 after the first quarter and Riley Stewart kicked a 34-yard field goal midway through the second to stake Darien to a 17-0 lead.
“They played very well up front on us,” Drury said. “They’ve obviously got Stueber and they’ve got those other guys … They were just tough up front. They had the field position battle on us and we could not flip the field. We tried to get ourselves going and kind of shot ourselves in the foot a little bit. But, you know, they’re a tough team. They’re a very tough team.”
Peters all day to throw, then Tim Herget busts about a hundred tackles en route to a 31-7 Darien lead.
I'd say this is over, but… #cthsfb pic.twitter.com/gCdfpiv2rV— Sean Patrick Bowley (@SPBowley) December 6, 2016
Unlike last year’s 49-7 loss to Darien in the semifinals, Southington (11-1) had some fight in it. Sam Thompson picked off a pass to halt a sure scoring drive late in the first quarter. Later, a 58-yard run by Vance Upham set up Will Barmore’s 13-yard touchdown strike to Richard Rivera to cut Darien’s lead to 17-7 with 3:48 remaining before halftime.
But Darien marched right back down the field, with Collins doing a majority of the work, and responded with Nick Green’s deflating, 2-yard touchdown run for a 24-7 halftime lead.
“That was big,” Drury said. “That was big. They answered. They answered with a score right there. It changes the playcalling a little bit. You have to throw the ball a little bit more and you can’t play a team like this from behind.”
Indeed, it was all Darien in the second half. Tim Herget caught a short pass from Brian Peters and danced through several tackles for a backbreaking 37-yard touchdown.
Brian Minicus had an interception and, later, Darien tacked on one last score — a 12-yard pass from Peters to Green — before sending in the reserves in the fourth quarter.
Upham, who finishes his outstanding career as Southington’s all-time leading rusher, ran for 135 yards on 9 carries. But he had little room to roam between the tackles and also lost a fumble which led to a touchdown in the first quarter.
Barmore was 17 of 34 for 160 yards and a touchdowns. In addition to being sacked seven times, he was hurried often and intercepted twice.
Collins ran 90 yards on 21 carries and had two touchdowns. Peter Guttuso had Darien’s other interception.
Darien 38, Southington 7
Southington 0 7 0 0—7
Darien 14 10 14 0 — 38
D—Finlay Collins 1 run (Riley Stewart kick)
D—Collins 1 run (Stewart kick)
D—Stewart 34 field goal
S—Richie Rivera 13 pass from Will Barmore (Nick Daddona kick)
D—Nick Green 2 run (Stewart kick)
D—Tim Herget 37 pass from Brian Peters (Stewart kick)
D—Green 12 pass from Peters (Stewart kick)
Team records: Darien 12-0, Southington 11-1