NORWALK — The Hand football team, No. 1 in the GametimeCT Top 10 Poll, found itself in a spot it has not been in much the last few seasons, trailing after the opening possession.

The Tigers’ defense responded the way championship-caliber teams do, shutting down Norwalk the rest of the way en route to a 41-6 win at Testa Field in Norwalk.

The score was not exactly indicative of the how the game was played as Hand piled on late in the second half with Norwalk hanging tough.

Norwalk came out throwing a haymaker, scoring on the second play of the game on a 76-yard bomb from Kyle Gordon to Lomorris House.

The Tigers defense would not allow another score.

“We knew we had to come out on fire in the game and that touchdown lit a spark in us,” Hand senior defensive lineman Austin Doyle said. “We knew we were better than that first drive and we knew we had to play for a cause tonight. After that first drive, we came out firing and we knew it was a battle.”

Hand was playing without head coach Dave Mastroianni, who was home with an illness.

The Hand players rallied behind their missing coach, saying the win was for him.

Hand answered right back, scoring three plays later on a 1-yard dive by Colin McCabe.

Hand would score again in the first quarter, this time on a 9-yard run by Jesse Lutz.

The Bears would contain the Tigers much of the second half but with :42 left in the half, Phoenix Billings dropped a dime to Ethan Haberman in the corner of the end zone.

A muffed punt by Hand with under 10 seconds to go in the half gave Norwalk two shots from the 10-yard line to scored but the Bears could into convert, going into the break, down 21-6 as the Hand defense held.

Hand scored again with 4:50 left in the third on a 12-yard run by Billings.

The Tigers added fourth-quarter touchdowns by Lutz (3 yards) and Ethan O’Brien (5 yards).

Norwalk coach Sean Ireland said his team had a lot to be proud of.

“Our kids have nothing to put their heads down about. We were right there with them in the first half,” Ireland said. “If we play like this the rest of the way, we are going to win some games. We know they are No. 1 for a reason. We were right there. The score did not indicate how close the game was.”

Jesse Lutz, Hand: Lutz scored two touchdowns on the ground as Hand was forced to pound the ball with Norwalk doing a decent job in pass coverage all night.

“We respected (Norwalk’s) speed and you can’t duplicate it in practice and it caught us a little off guard,” Hand assistant coach Mike DeVito said. “It took us a little while to get our football legs after two weeks off but once we settle down, we contained them pretty well. Credit to Norwalk. I don’t think the scoreboard indicated how close this game was. We have total respect for Norwalk after this game.”

Connecticut Media Group