Updated 11:16am Dec. 4 — Jack Joyce, again, proved to be an essential part of the Darien victory machinery in his second post-season start.
Joyce ran for two touchdowns and threw another in the Wave’s 27-13 win over West Haven at Darien on Sunday.
This is the state championship. There’s no holding back.
— Rob Trifone
“We asked him to do a lot today, because we asked him to run the ball a little more than normal,” said Darien coach Rob Trifone. “And we’ve kind of held back on that. But, this is the state championship. There’s no holding back.”
The Class LL Semifinals victory puts No. 3 Darien (11-1) in a title game clash with county rival No. 1 Greenwich (12-0) at Boyle Stadium 11am Saturday in Stamford.
And just as Joyce shows his essential wares, the Wave’s had just as vital star turns from up and down the roster.
“That’s what this game is all about,” said Trifone. “Next man up.”
Joyce threw two and ran in one TD in a star-of-the-game performance in the quarterfinals and was quick to followed up, running 12 yards and stepping in over the left corner to stake the Wave to a 6-0 lead with four minutes gone from opening kick-off.
And even when he ran the ball to the five, and had it pop from his hands to bounce in the end zone, Joyce was the moving force behind Alex Dehmel’s clutch clutch for the Wave’s insurance TD with 4:20 to play in the game.
“It was a good run by Joyce,” said Dehmel. “I saw him coming and all of a sudden I saw the ball on the ground. And anybody else would have been there to grab it too. So I dove out and luckily I was able to come up with it.”
Austin Hagander kicked three PAT.
But for all the evidence on the scoresheet, the players were hailing Connor Tienken as MVP.
Tienken made two big time interceptions and blocked a PAT attempt.
Kyle Godfrey dove over the pile from the one to with Chris Chance’s PAT kick tie the game at seven with 1:31 on the clock in the first quarter.
But Joyce had his best rush of the season, maybe, slipping through three tacklers at the 10 then sliding by another pair inside the five for a 16 yard touchdown. And when Hagander made the kick, Darien was up 14-7 with 2:14 to play in the half with the lead it never let go of.
Joyce threw 23 yards down the right side, junior TJ Cornacchia opened his arms on the trot and in dropped the pass for a 20-7 lead with 5:43 to go in the third quarter.
Nineteen seconds later Godfrey hooked right and hugged the sideline on a 70 yard charge to the end zone to bring the Blue Devils up to 20-13.
Darien’s defense held the line.
Dehmel was Alex-on-the-spot with the fumble recovery in the fourth quarter to close it out.
And back returning punts and finding the gaps for the first time since coming back from injury was Max Grant, who set up Joyce’s rush that concluded with that last TD.
“We’ve got a lot of good kids in the program and we had a nice team meeting yesterday,” said Trifone. “We talked about the fact that, the kids we have in this room right now, are wonderful kids and wonderful football players. And you’re going to go out tomorrow and put on a show.”