WETHERSFIELD — Life has been so easy for Daniel Hand that its quarterback has been practically begging for a challenge.
Wethersfield answered that call Friday, handing the state’s top-ranked team a rare early deficit, and it still didn’t matter much.
The Tigers ripped off 29 points in the second quarter and rolled past Wethersfield 56-13 at Cottone Field.
“It’s good for me, good for our offense, good for our team to have a wake-up call like that,” quarterback Phoenix Billings said. “Now we know that we can’t come on the road and come out slow because teams are going to come for us, especially in their own place. We learned that today.”
Billings threw interceptions on two of his first three passes, leading to a 6-0 Wethersfield lead after one quarter. But the Tigers answered with an onslaught of offense. Colin McCabe ran for three touchdowns, and Billings accounted for three scores of his own, as the Tigers rolled to 3-0.
“Pretty much the second quarter on, we got back to our brand of football,” Billings said. “We did our thing. We just stayed in our heads and did a good job.”
McCabe scored on a 3-yard run to give Hand a 7-6 lead, then added another from 2 yards out on Hand’s next drive. Matt Silver hit Connor Pace for an 80-yard touchdown to bring Wethersfield (2-1) within 15-13, but Hand answered by scoring 41 unanswered points.
“We did what no team in the state has done the past two years,” Wethersfield coach Matt McKinnon said. “We were winning by six at the end of the first quarter and we forced three turnovers right away. We stuck to the game plan, it went well, but they just wore us out in the second half.”
Hand marched right down the field to start the second half, scoring on a 14-yard run by Billings to push its lead to 35-13. The Tigers went on to outscore Wethersfield 20-0 in the third.
“We know we’re going to get everybody’s best, especially when we go on the road,” Hand coach Dave Mastroianni said. “This was our first road game of the year. Matt McKinnon, he’s a first-year guy, but those kids buy into what he’s doing.”
Colin McCabe, Hand: The senior running back sparked the Tigers’ offense, breaking off a 50-yard run to help set up their first touchdown. He ran for scores of 3, 2 and 4 yards.
Mastroianni coached the game from the press box after having his appendix removed on Tuesday. He said being on the sidelines was “difficult,” but credited his assistants for taking on a bit more responsibility.
“It was very important to me that I got back,” he said. “The deal I made with my wife was I had to sit in the press box.”
“Their kids fooled around, made some plays, and put us in a hole. It’s always good to get tested.” — Dave Mastroianni, Hand