DARIEN >> Down 20 points in the early stages of the second half and still reeling from the sight of seeing teammate Harold Cooper taken from the field in an ambulance, for a fleeting moment it appeared as if the Hillhouse football season opener was about to go from bad to worse.
However, the Academics rallied to make things interesting.
“We are not a one-man team,” first-year Hillhouse coach Reggie Lytle said. “We started moving the ball and we started scoring, our defense needs to tighten up, and if our defensive tightens up, it is a completely different game.”
The game was suspended Thursday after repeated lightning sightings forced the game to be suspended with 9:40 left in the fourth quarter with host Darien leading 40-26.
Darien responded with a 34-yard interception return for a touchdown by Joe Dedham to make the final 47-26.
The final play before play was halted was a 57-yard touchdown pass from Silas Wyper to Nicholas Lombardo. Lombardo snared the ball just over the outstretched arms of Hillhouse defensive back Marquise Clark.
It was Lombardo’s fourth touchdown of the game. He had touchdown receptions of 40, 18 and 57 yards as well as a 4-yard scoring run and a two-point conversion run as well.
Wyper was 17 of 24 for 248 yards and four touchdowns. However, Hillhouse managed to stay within range.
Jonathan Young intercepted a Wyper pass and raced 45 yards for a touchdown and Forel Kourouma had a 78-yard scoring run as the Academics only trailed by 12 points at halftime.
Hillhouse didn’t have Cooper, who came into the game 50 yards shy of 5,000 in his career since late in the first quarter. He ran the ball twice for eight yards, fielded a punt, made two tackles and a pass breakup. He was treated by Hillhouse’s medical staff before the EMTs on site came over to help stabilize Cooper so he could be taken to Norwalk Hospital.
Lytle did not believe Cooper’s injury was serious.
“Our trainer is still working on him right now and he is dehydrated and that is all it is, he is cramping up,” Lytle said. “Hopefully we will get him back tomorrow and get him in the game.”
Following halftime, the story was the large number of Darien players cramping up as seven different players had to helped off the field. With heavy rain, thunder and lightning expected to come into the area, the constant delays made it clear the game would not be completed on Thursday.
“Can it make a difference?” Darien coach Rob Trifone said of completing the game on Friday. “Half of our team was cramped on the sideline so you would assume it would help you, but who wants to wait 24 hours. But had we not cramped in the first place, the game would have been over. Win lose or draw the game would be over. I knew, I kept saying to the officials we have to get those kids off the field because we are losing daylight.”
Kourouma led Hillhouse with 89 rushing yards, Tarroll Stafford had eight tackles and Scott Marks made six tackles.
Mark Evanchick had three tackles for loss for Darien.
Update: Mark Evanchik was incorrectly identified in the original article. This has been corrected.