WEST HAVEN >> After one of its worst defeats in recent memory, Hand had a week to get the bad taste out of its mouth.
Consider it worth the wait.
Reid Sweitzer’s 4-yard touchdown run on fourth down in overtime, coupled with Tyler Phan’s extra point, gave the Tigers a 14-13 victory over No. 10 Notre Dame-West Haven Friday evening in a Southern Connecticut Conference Division I East contest at Veterans Stadium in West Haven.
“I have to put that touchdown on my line,” Sweitzer said. “I knew I had to get through that hole and my linemen just pushed me in. We really wanted to win this game. The underclassmen wanted it for the seniors and the seniors wanted it for their memories.”
The Green Knights scored first in overtime on a Christian Lupoli-to-Wyatt Miller 2-yard touchdown pass. Chris Stanio’s extra point was wiped out by a penalty and Hand blocked the next attempt, leaving Notre Dame with a 13-7 lead.
“We played great,” Notre Dame coach Tom Marcucci said after his team fell to 7-3. “Our first two running backs went out in the first quarter. We played tough. It came down to one point. I feel bad for the guys. We wanted to win the division and we wanted to win out. We had a lot of young guys playing. It was a great effort.”
The loss for the Green Knights was particularly tough as it hurt Notre Dame’s playoff chances and did not allow them to clinch the Division I East title. The Green Knights are tied with Cheshire.
After three scoreless quarters, Notre Dame got on the board first with 7:56 remaining in the fourth quarter. Brandon Knight’s 1-yard run and Stanio’s extra point gave ND a 7-0 advantage.
Hand drove to the Notre Dame 9-yard line on its next possession before being stopped, but the Tigers would get one more possession in regulation. Seven plays later, Nick Leone scored from 1 yard out and Phan’s extra point forced overtime.
“A win like this makes a dismal season worth it,” Hand coach Steve Filippone said after his team improved to 4-6. “The defense played great. They were lights out. Our offense struggled a bit, but we made the plays when we had to.”
Both quarterbacks had to deal with relentless defenses throughout the night. Hand’s Nick van Dell finished with 148 yards through the air on 15-for-31 passing, while Lupoli was 14 of 34 for 150 yards.
“I am so proud of the kids,” Filippone said. “Sweitzer had a couple of things not go his way early in the game, but he was able to push through at the end when we needed him.”
The first half, in which Notre Dame lost running backs Prince Brooks and Josh Witkowsky to injuries, set the tone of the contest as each quarterback struggled to get any momentum.
Lupoli, who appeared to injure his right arm with 1:55 left before halftime on a hard hit, completed only five passes for 53 yards. His counterpart, van Dell, completed only eight passes for 95 yards. Each threw an interception in the first two quarters.
The Green Knights had the better of the scoring opportunities in the first 24 minutes, twice moving inside the Hand 20-yard line, but each time came up short.
Notre Dame moved the ball 41 yards on its opening possession of the game, but on fourth down from the Hand 4-yard line, Lupoli was sacked for an 8-yard loss by Cory Walsh. The Green Knights then moved the ball 45 yards in 12 plays on their final possession of the half, but Lupoli was intercepted by Jack Santoro at the Hand 3-yard line in the final minute.
The Tigers got as far as the Notre Dame 23-yard line twice in the opening half, but each time stalled on fourth down. Van Dell threw two straight incompletions the first time inside the 25 and the Hand quarterback was stopped on fourth down with 2:43 left in the opening half.
Hand 14, Notre Dame-West Haven 13
(at West Haven)
Hand 0 0 0 7 7 — 14
Notre Dame 0 0 0 7 6 — 13
N—Brandon Knight 1 run (Chris Stanio kick)
H—Nick Leone 1 run (Tyler Phan kick)
N—Wyatt Miller 2 pass from Christian Lupoli (Kick blocked)
H—Reid Sweitzer 4 run (Tyler Phan kick)
Team records: Notre Dame-West Haven 7-3; Hand 4-6