MADISON — One down, two to go.
Top-seeded Hand got one-third of the way in its quest to repeat as CIAC Class L football champion Tuesday night with a resounding 56-0 victory over 8th-seeded Bunnell in the Class LL quarterfinals at the Surf Club.
The Tigers (ranked second in the GameTimeCT Top 10 poll) will host fourth-seeded Windsor in the semifinals at 12:30 p.m. Sunday at the Surf Club. Windsor beat North Haven 34-14 Tuesday night.
“It sounds good to me,” Hand coach Dave Mastroianni said. “It’s always good to see Windsor.”
The winner of that contest will play for the Class L title on Dec. 8.
2018 CIAC FOOTBALL PLAYOFF SCOREBOARD
As things have gone the entire season, it was relatively easy for Hand to put away the Bulldogs, who compete in the South West Conference.
For the 11th game in a row, the Tigers accumulated a big lead in the second half to force a running clock for the final 24 minutes.
It took Hand longer than usual to get going. \
The Tigers failed to score on their first possession, but after that, Bunnell couldn’t stop the Hand offense, especially Colin McCabe, who scored a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter and three in the second quarter. He added 144 yards rushing before the break as Hand led 49-0. McCabe ended up with 174 yards rushing.
“My offensive line did a great job,” McCabe said. “The line and our fullbacks are selfless players. They do their job and never complain.”
The Tigers also scored on a 60-yard touchdown pass from Phoenix Billings to Chris Bartosic. The defense also got into the action when Ben Corniello sacked Bulldog quarterback Brian Carrafiello, then when the ball came loose, John Flanagan pounced on it in the end zone for a touchdown.
— Dave Phillips (@davephillips41) November 28, 2018
Hand kept its foot on the pedal to open the second half as the Tigers marched 43 yards with Jesse Lutz scooting in from three yards out to make it 56-0.
Bunnell finally picked up its initial first down of the game, thanks to a roughing the passer penalty with five minutes left in the third quarter. The Bulldogs got their only first down rushing with 40 seconds remaining in the game.
Bunnell was held to minus-25 yards on offense by the Hard first team defense.
“We ran into a phenomenal team,” Bunnell coach Sean Mignone said. “I think on our best day we don’t compete with them. Strength-wise and size-wise — that’s a special team. Offensively, they are a machine.”
Mastroianni shook his head when he was given that stat afterwards.
“We’ve been doing stuff like that all year. They’re physical, getting downhill and run to the football,” he said. “It’s great to see that from out of our guys. Hopefully, we can continue to do what we’re supposed to do.”
STAR OF THE GAME
Hand running Colin McCabe rushed for 174 yards and five touchdowns.
“He (McCabe) is big and strong. I can’t wait to see some of those runs on film.”
—Hand coach Dave Mastroianni.
DANIEL HAND 56, BUNNELL 0
BUNNELL 0 0 0 0 — 0
HAND 14 35 7 0 — 56
- Hand: Colin McCabe 52 run (run failed)
- Hand: Chris Bartosic 60 pass from Phoenix Billings (Isaiah McNeilly run)
- Hand: Colin McCabe 3 run (Isaiah McNeilly run)
- Hand: Colin McCabe 4 run (Isaiah McNeilly kick)
- Hand: John Flanagan fumble recovery (pass failed)
- Hand: Colin McCabe 35 run (Isaiah McNeilly kick)
- Hand: Colin McCabe 23 run (Isaiah McNeilly kick)
- Hand: Jesse Lutz 3 run (Isaiah McNeilly kick)
Records: Bunnell (9-2); Daniel Hand (11-0)