Hand Takes 33-20 Defeat Versus Shelton
Senior captain Seth Sweitzer and the Hand football team took a 33-20 defeat at Shelton on Oct. 15, moving the Tigers’ record to 2-3 on the season. (File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Source)
Senior captain Patch Flanagan and the Tigers lost to Shelton last week and will now get ready for a non-conference game at East Lyme on Friday, Oct. 22. Also pictured for Hand is No. 54, senior Brendan Walsh. (File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Source)
The Hand football squad has had its fair share of ups and downs while competing against some of the best teams in Connecticut this season. Last week, the Tigers took their third loss of the year when they dropped a 33-20 decision against Shelton in a road game on Oct. 15.
While his team’s record currently sits at 2-3, first-year Head Coach Erik Becker knows that the Tigers are capable of much more on the gridiron.
“We’ve got arguably the hardest schedule in the state of Connecticut,” said Becker. “The thing I’m most proud of with our guys is that we go out there and compete for 48 minutes every game. There is no quit in these guys, and we have been competitive in every game we’ve played in.”
Coming off a 49-6 victory versus Sheehan, the Tigers had plenty of momentum heading into their contest at Shelton last week. Coach Becker said that a few critical plays wound up going in the opposition’s favor, resulting in a 13-point loss for his squad.
“We had a few scoop and scores on defense where the referee ended up ruling the runner down by contact. We off to the races on both fumbles, and I think that really changed the momentum in this game,” Becker said. “It’s unfortunate that those calls didn’t go our way, but we didn’t hang our heads because of it.”
In the first quarter, senior captain running back Ethan O’Brien scored the first touchdown of the game on a 5-yard rush. O’Brien carried the ball 23 times for 112 yards and a touchdown on the night.
Senior captain quarterback Patch Flanagan had 21 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown for the Tigers. He also completed eight passes for 81 yards and a TD. Flanagan’s passing touchdown was to senior captain wide receiver Seth Sweitzer late in the second half.
“Ethan has come so far since our first two games this season. He’s making really definitive cuts, and he’s playing on another level at the moment,” said Becker. “I also thought Patch ran the ball incredibly well. Every time Patch carries it, he delivers a hit, and people don’t want to try and tackle him. It’s great seeing these kids play with such tenacity.”
Coach Becker credited Shelton for being such a big and strong opponent up front, thereby allowing the Gaels to dictate the pace on offense. Shelton’s senior running back Tyler Rich ran for 178 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries in the game.
“It’s tough, because we lack depth and size. We’re 10 players from being a Class M school,” said Becker. “Shelton had their way with us up front, and it was really difficult to stop them. All the credit goes to them. We stacked the box and tried to make them beat us in the air. They have always given us problems, and we’re only 6-12 overall against them all-time. It was a good learning experience for us, and we will definitely take this game in stride.”
One of the major turning points in the game came halfway through the second quarter. Hand trailed Shelton 14-7 when the Gaels picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown.
“The big plays that we needed to go our way didn’t. I really feel like we are a few plays from being 5-0 this season, instead of 2-3,” Becker said. “As frustrating as it is to lose, I am really proud of the way we battle, and we are going to keep battling the rest of the year.”
Hand’s next game is a non-conference matchup at East Lyme on Friday, Oct. 22 at 6:30 p.m. As the Tigers enter the second half of their season, Coach Becker’s expectations are just as high as they were during the first half.
“My mentality is, ‘What else can we do but go forward?’” said Becker. “We simply can’t look back, and we’re going to continue to give it our all the rest of the year.”