CHESHIRE — The numbers are simply startling.
One touchdown allowed by the varsity defense all season.
A 159-0 scoring margin over 21/2 games.
A scoring average of 48.4 points per game.
All eight games having a running clock at some point in the second half.
Those are the numbers for Hand after the Tigers dismantled Cheshire, 49-14, Friday night in a Southern Connecticut Conference inter-Tier contest at the Maclary Complex.
“They believe in what they are doing,” Hand coach Dave Mastroianni said. “We try to keep it simple. They are comfortable in the offense and they execute the best they can.”
Third-ranked Hand unofficially clinched a berth in the CIAC Class L playoffs that begin Nov. 27. The Tigers (8-0) are the defending champion.
“We’re in, but we want to keep bringing games back to the Surf Club,” Mastroianni said. “The only way we can do that is by going 1-0 every week.”
Hand jumped on top midway through the first quarter when Colin McCabe (10 carries for 136 yards) caught a screen pass from quarterback Phoenix Billings (10-for-14 passing for 124 yards) and scooted into the end zone from seven yards out.
After Cheshire ran three plays and punted, Hand needed just nine plays before Billings ran 17 yards on a quarterback keeper up the middle to make it 13-0. Isaiah McNeilly, who had three extra-point kicks and a pair of two-point conversion runs, scooted into the end zone to make it 14-0 after the first quarter.
The second quarter was all in Hand’s favor as the Tigers scored five touchdowns in a span of 9:10 to break the game wide open.
First, McCabe was able to break open in the Cheshire secondary and scored on a 50-yard run with 10:23 remaining until halftime.
Just 3:10 later, Ian Butler caught a 24-yard pass from Billings for a touchdown to make it 27-0.
Butler wasn’t done, though. Three plays later, he picked off a Colby Griffin pass at the Rams’ 36-yard line and raced down the sideline in front of the Hand bench for a TD. With McNeilly’s run, it was 35-0 with 5:55 to go until halftime.
Cheshire, which only had 25 yards of offense in the first half, again couldn’t get a first down. After the Rams punted, it took just three plays until Jesse Lutz raced 15 yards for another Hand score.
The Tigers closed out their scoring for the night with 1:13 to play in the first half when McCabe broke at least a half dozen tackles for his third touchdown of the night, which gave Hand a 49-0 lead at halftime. “We had a really good week of practice,” McCabe said. “We wanted to come out here and show people we really mean business.”
Cheshire (2-6) finally got on the scoreboard with 4:58 to go in the third quarter on a Ryan Mancl 19-yard TD run. The Rams added another score later in the third quarter when Tim Krutz caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Griffin.
“We didn’t put our best foot forward in the first 24 minutes,” Cheshire coach Don Drust said. “I don’t think we executed and that’s a good football team. They are very good on defense and they play fast.”
STAR OF THE GAME
Hand running back Colin McCabe — Finished with 10 carries for 136 yards, scored two rushing touchdowns and caught a pass for another touchdown, all in the first half.
“He’s a big strong weight room kid. He’s one of those kids you have to usher out of the weight room and it shows up in the way he carries the ball and runs,”
— Hand coach Dave Mastroianni on junior running back Colin McCabe.