Someone will have to break out the archives to verify this, but I would bet it has been a very long time since the Masuk Football team was held to 14 points and shut out from scoring for an entire half.
Daniel Hand did just that to them in their semi-final match-up at West Haven's Ken Strong Stadium Saturday night.
Masuk received the opening kickoff and drove right down the field for the first score of the night. From that first drive it looked like the rocket-armed Masuk quarterback, Casy Cochran, was going to be able to pick the Tigers apart all night. But Hand responded immediately on their second offensive play of the night when Kevin Frey broke through the center of the Masuk defense and ran for a 68 yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7.
Masuk's next drive stalled at the Hand 13 yard line and the Tigers took over and put together a 17-play, 87-yard drive, capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Joe Demichele to put the tigers out front 14-7.
Masuk followed up with another drive and with 3:15 left in the half, Masuk running back, Colin Markus, found the end zone from 4 yards out. A long kickoff return by Nick Vitale gave Hand a first down at the Masuk 18, but Hand was not able to move the ball. A 32-yard field goal attempt by Ryan Bell fell just short. The score would remain 14-14 at the half.
Hand received the second half kickoff and marched right down the field. Matt Walsh ran it in from 1 yard out to make the score 21-14. During the rest of the third quarter the teams traded punts. Early in the fourth quarter Henry Foye found Kyle Anderson over the middle for a 10 yard touchdown pass to put the Tigers up 28-14 with 10:29 remaining in the game.
On Masuk's next possesion, Hunter Mayhew intercepted Cochran and that gave Hand the ball at their own 40. Henry Foye then threw a 58 yard pass to Nick Vitale to put the Tigers up 35-14 with 7:52 left in the game.
The Hand defense then went back to work and shut down Masuk.
Hand had one more chance to score. Henry Foye scrambled up the middle for a 25 yard gain and it looked like he was going to cap his great night with a rushing touchdown. But it was not to be, a Masuk defender stripped the ball from him at the 10 yard line and Masuk took posession from that spot.
The Masuk drive stalled at midfield and Hand took over with 58 seconds remaining in the game. A couple of kneel downs later and the Tigers were on their way to the finals!
The Hand defense was superb all night. Cochran completed 35 of 63 passes for 257 yards and he was their leading rusher with only 29 yards. Running back, Colin Markus was held to 15 yards on eight carries.
The Hand offense was balanced, Frey rushed for 115 yards, Vitale had 12 catches for 148 yards. Matt Walsh and Joe Demichele provided the power punches when necessary.
Hand will practice one more week to get ready to meet New Canaan in finals. New Canaan has been the team that knocked Hand out of the playoffs in their last two appearances.
Now they are the only thing standing in the way of Daniel Hand's tenth State Championship.