Darien's Lombardo racks up five touchdowns in season-opening win over Hillhouse
DARIEN -- It took quite a bit longer than expected, but the Darien football team defended its home turf over a two-day span as senior Nick Lombardo recorded five touchdowns in a 46-26 victory over Hillhouse, the defending Class M state champs.
With Hillhouse facing a third-and-five on its own 25 on its first possession on Friday, Lombardo stepped in front of a pass and went 25 yards untouched for the score, essentially sealing the win and boosting the Blue Wave's lead to 20 points.
"(Lombardo) gives you everything on every play," Trifone said. "I thought our defense did a great job holding Hillhouse down in general. Their quarterback, their fullback, they're all great players. They have much more speed than we have except for maybe Lombardo, and they're the defending state champs."
Lombardo got the Blue Wave rolling in the first quarter Thursday with a four-yard touchdown on a sweep one play after Darien's John Reed picked off a Hillhouse pass and advanced it 30 yards to the four.
On Darien's next drive, Lombardo hauled in a pass on a crossing route to convert a third down. Lombardo's momentum nearly carried him out of bounds, but he managed to steer himself to stay in play and went down the sideline for a 40-yard touchdown and a 13-0 lead.
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"We knew we were capable of doing big things this year. We had a lot of weapons. We had John Reed playing great, (Andrew) Nault playing well in the trenches, Mark (Evanchick) and George (Reed) playing great on the ends," said Lombardo, who had four receptions for 62 yards and three touchdowns and three carries for 15 yards and a score. "(Quarterback) Silas (Wyper) came out and wowed the crowd. The stat line said I had a lot of points but it's all because of our line and Silas."
The first half was largely dominated by Darien, but the Academics came up with two potential tide-turning plays. First, Jonathan Young stepped in front of a Darien swing pass, made the interception and raced 55 yards to pay dirt, cutting Darien's lead to 13-7.
After Lombardo accounted for his third touchdown -- an 18-yard reception -- Hillhouse fullback Forel Kourouma went up the middle, broke a few tackles and went 78 yards for a touchdown to cut it to 19-13. Hillhouse played most of game without star running back Harold Cooper. Cooper finished with just 26 yards on six carries in limited action, sitting out with an undisclosed injury.
"We still have a young team after graduating 18 seniors last year, but we're not making any excuses. We were hoping to turn it around and get these kids pumped and ready to play some football," Hillhouse coach Reggie Lytle said. "We were down 14, came back here, tried to rally and put something together and our quarterback just made a bad decision."
Darien had answers for both of Hillhouse's big plays, however, as the Blue Wave offense followed each up with a touchdown of its own. Darien's latter touchdown came on a tough 21-yard run by Jay Harrison, who broke several tackles for a 25-13 lead in the second quarter.
"We're very pleased with the offense. Every time they scored we ended up answering the call," Trifone said. "We had a nice mix of run and throw, and I can't be any more pleased with Silas on opening day."
Darien's non-Lombardo touchdowns came courtesy of Reed, who sprinted down the left sidelines and made a diving catch into the end zone on a 26-yard strike from Wyper.
"It really wasn't about me. The guys make it so easy for me. Incredible offensive line with some big strong guys who worked out in the offseason. Our receivers -- Nick Lombardo a huge deep threat -- and all the other guys like John Reed making big plays," said Wyper, who was 18-of-31 for 242 yards, 4 TDs and an INT in his varsity debut. "It was definitely weird (playing the game over two days), but I think it helped us because we were cramping yesterday. We got to rest up, put our best foot forward today and win the game."
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DARIEN 46, HILLHOUSE 26
HILLHOUSE................... 0 13 13 0--26
DARIEN....................... 13 12 8 13--46
D--Nick Lombardo 4 run (Daly Hebert kick)
D--Lombardo 40 pass from Silas Wyper (kick failed)
H--Jonathan Young 55 interception return (Cedil Ogniovi kick)
D--Lombardo 18 pass from Wyper (pass failed)
H--Forel Kourouma 78 run (kick failed)
D--Jay Harrison 21 run (pass failed)
D--John Reed 26 pass from Wyper (Lombardo run)
H--Alton Smalls 28 pass from Corey Maddox (Ogniovi kick)
H--Richie Washington 5 pass from Maddox (kick failed)
D--Lombardo 52 pass from Wyper (Hebert kick)
D--Lombardo 25 interception return (kick failed)
Records: Hillhouse 0-1, Darien 1-0