After its rough loss at New Canaan to start the season, the Hand football team looked to even its mark on Sept. 20 versus Hillhouse at West Haven’s Veterans Field. While they were down by 18 in the second quarter, the Tigers completed the comeback bid on a 19-yard field goal from Tyler Phan with five seconds left and earned a 28-26 victory after being down one with over four minutes to play.
The Academics got on the board with two touchdown rushes of 63 and two yards to build their 12-0 edge after a quarter prior to them finding the end zone on a 92-yard scoring scamper at the beginning of the second to go up 18.
Hand began to mount its rally, though, as after it earned a safety, Nick VanDell connected from 10 yards out with Tom Wilson before Conor Dowd ran in for the two-point conversion to make it an eight-point deficit for the Tigers. VanDell took it in on a three-yard rush, while Dowd again scored for two more, as Hand went to halftime tied at 18 with Hillhouse.
After a scoreless third by both sides, VanDell ran for a 14-yard touchdown with 9:11 to go to give the Tigers a 25-18 edge, which was keyed by a 44-yard punt return by Tommy Wilson to open Hand’s drive with strong field position.
The Academics regained the lead by one five minutes later on a touchdown pass and two-point play to follow. Yet Hand took advantage of the clock and was able to march down the field to set up Phan for his game-winning kick and give the Tigers their first victory of the campaign.
VanDell finished the game 11-for-22 through the air with 146 yards, along with a touchdown pass and pick. On the ground, he finished with 79 yards and two scores on 15 carries, while Dowd (23 rushes, 91 yards) was the leading rusher for Hand. Tom Wilson played the leading man through the air with his 67 yards on four catches and right behind him was Josh DeMartino (4 catches, 46 yards), as Hand finished with 499 all-purpose yards.
Defensively, Dan Rogers had a 50-yard interception return to set up VanDell’s three-yard scamper to the end zone in addition to his eight tackles. Tommy Wilson had seven tackles, and Reid Sweitzer added a pair of fumble recoveries for Hand.
Sitting at 1-1, Hand now prepares for its home opener at the Surf Club with Cross on Friday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.