Published December 09. 2012 4:00AM
East Hartford - Top-seeded Hand scored 23 unanswered points to defeat No. 2 Windsor 23-6 on Saturday night in the Class L state championship football game played before 5,189 at Rentschler Field.
The Tigers (13-0) successfully defended their state title and won their 11th championship overall. Windsor, which led 6-3 at halftime, finished 12-1.
Hand came into the state playoffs ranked No. 1 in The Day's Top 10 state coaches' poll and the New Haven Register Top 10 media poll. The Tigers, who beat Class LL champion Xavier and Class M champion Hillhouse during the regular season, will likely finish first in both final polls.
Hand quarterback Brendan Bilcheck ran 14 times for 82 yards and a touchdown. He also completed 15 of 25 passes for 141 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Caleb Ewald (eight catches, 74 yards, 1 touchdown) was Hand's leading receiver. Matt Walsh had 15 tackles and Daniel Rogers returned a fumble for a 42-yard touchdown.
Robert Quinn Fleeting completed 11 of 27 passes for 131 yards with a touchdown and interception for Windsor (11-1). He found Ryheime Moore wide-open in the back left corner of the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown with more than eight minutes remaining in the first half.
Peter Gerson blocked the extra point as the Warriors took a 6-0 lead.
Tyler Phan kicked a 27-yard field goal to end the first half and cut Windsor's lead to 6-3.
Bilcheck threw a short pass to Ewald, who took it for a 23-yard touchdown with over eight minutes left in the third quarter. Phan's extra point gave Hand a 10-6 lead.
On Windsor's next possession, Rogers scooped it up a fumble and returned it for a 42-yard touchdown. Phan's extra point pushed Hand ahead, 16-6, with five minutes, 43 seconds left in the third quarter.
Bilcheck added a 4-yard touchdown run with over a minute left in the fourth quarter to push the Tigers' advantage to 23-6.
Fourth-seeded Hillhouse rallied from a 12-6 halftime deficit to defeat No. 2 Berlin 34-12, the Academics' second state title in the last three seasons.
Harold Cooper gave Hillhouse (11-2) tied the game at 12-12 on a 3-yard run with 2:43 left in the third quarter and Je'Vaughn Moore's extra point gave the Academics' the lead for good.
Cooper rushed for 88 yards on 19 carries and also caught a 62-yard touchdown pass from Moore. Moore, meanwhile, rsuehd for 106 yards on eight carries, including a 62-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
Berlin (11-2) grabbed its early lead on on a 1-yard run by Wojtus Zak and a touchdown pass from Mitch Williams to Kevin Main.
• Junior running back Arkeel Newsome rushed for 237 yards and three touchdowns and top-seeded Ansonia's defense came up big when it counted as the Chargers defeated No. 3 North Branford 59-26.
It was the 18th overall straight state title for Ansonia (14-0), which beat Ledyard in the 2011 Class M final. North Branford (12-1) drove inside the Ansonia 25 three times during an 18-minute span in the second quarter but were stopped on fourth down all three times.
Newsome, meanwhile, scored on runs of 3, 1 and 64 yards. "There's nothing you can say about him," Ansonia coach Tom Brockett told CIACSports.com. "Some college is going to get a great, great, great football player."
Quarterback Brandan Basil completed 22 of 43 passes for 398 yards and four touchdowns for the Thunderbirds. Three of those TDs went to Joe DeLucia, who finished with nine receptions for 204 yards in a game that featured 1,049 yards of total offense between the two teams.