NEW BRITAIN — Maloney landed a classic underdog blow to start the day. Heavily favored Hand then took command of the Class L state championship game at Veteran Stadium.
Utter and complete command.
In a game that was over in the first half, No. 1 Hand defended its Class L crown with an emphatic 54-14 victory over the No. 7 Spartans on Saturday afternoon.
For Hand, the victory completed a perfect 13-0 season that puts the Tigers alongside Class LL champ Greenwich, which blanked New Canaan 34-0 in the all-FCIAC final at Boyle Stadium in Stamford.
Maloney, playing in its first state final since 2006 and playing for Meriden’s first-ever state title in football, finished the year at 10-3.
It was Hand 32-6 by the end of the first quarter. Then, in the second quarter, a pair 46-yard touchdowns – one on a punt return and the other on a run by Colin McCabe – followed by a 22-yard TD pass from Phoenix Billings extended the lead to 54-6.
The Spartans did make a terrific splash to start the game, successfully executing an onside kick, then hitting for a 42-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage.
Good went downfield to Maurice Brackett, who hauled in a deflected ball behind his single-man defender.
The two-point pass failed. Maloney led 6-0 all of 10 seconds into the game against a starting Hand defense that had allowed just one touchdown all season.
From there, it was all Hand. Before the first quarter was out, the Tigers got rushing touchdowns from McCabe (31 yards) and Billings (14), then TD passes from Billings to Chris Bartosic (6 yards) and Kevin Girardi (36).
In the midst of all that, there was also a safety set up by a punt Hand downed at the 1.
To start the second quarter, Hand forced a Maloney punt that was returned by Julian Banerji 46 yards for a touchdown. McCabe followed with his second rushing TD, also from 46 yards, and Billings with his third TD pass, a 22-yarder to Ethan Haberman.
In all, Hand piled up 267 yards of first-half offense on 27 plays while holding Maloney to 60 yards on 30 – and 42 of those yards came on one play.
McCabe had 144 yards on eighth carries. Billings was just 5-of-10 for 79 yards, but three of those completions went for touchdowns.
After the break, Maloney had two extended drives in the third frame only to be turned over on downs, first at the Hand 9 and later at the Hand 37. In turn, Maloney stopped Hand inside the 5 to start the fourth quarter.
Maloney did drive the length of the field in the fourth quarter to score a second touchdown. The big play was a 73-yard pass from Good to VIncent Martinez. It led to a 20-yard TD pass from Good to Kamron Moreno. A terrific one-handed grab by Victor Marquez on the conversion pass followed.