The end zone throw was accurate, the catch was secured and the final buzzer sounded.
There was only one problem.
The feet had landed out of bounds.
Will Hammernick's reception just inches outside the end zone with no time left Friday concluded an entertaining, 14-14 Blue-White game outside Darien High School. The game, which is truly a modified intra-squad scrimmage put on by the Blue Wave football team, showcased a number of key returning players for Darien next season. Soon-to-be junior Tim Graham played quarterback for both teams and led the Blue Wave to three second-half touchdowns.
"I was very impressed," Blue Wave coach Rob Trifone said of his new signal caller, who replaces the graduated Silas Wyper. "Timmy has all the talent in the world ... But it doesn't mean a thing until you get out here and go live, which was good to see. The thing I liked the most was that he was poised."
Early on, points were difficult to come by. Unless, that is, you were a part of the defense. A first-quarter interception return for a touchdown marked the only scoring for either side before intermission. Shelby Grant and Peter Archey reeled off multiple first-down runs, but dropped passes and turnovers hampered all offensive efforts.
"It wasn't so much that the offense was struggling, it's that we were good on defense and we've got a lot of depth on defense," Trifone said. "And once you dilute the (offensive ) line, that's what's going to happen."
Trifone's reference to "dilution" along his offensive line is a matter of graduation, which took a number of starters away from the group for the 2014 season. However, the long-time coach noted that as much as the program will miss the on-field contributions from last year's seniors, their high levels of character and leadership left an indelible mark on the new team.
"They did a phenomenal job, and right across the board, all of last year's seniors were leaders," Trifone said. "We're going to miss those guys, but what they did was set the bar really high for these guys, and they know it."
Midway through the third quarter, Grant took a swing pass 10 yards from the end zone, tiptoed the sideline and scored for 14-0 White lead. Then, early in the fourth, Colin Minicus hauled in a tipped Graham throw for another touchdown to get the Blue team on the board at 14-7.
Had Minicus been able to snatch a wobbly deep pass in the ensuing drive, it's unlikely Archey would have seen the opportunity to run for a touchdown inside the five-yardline. But, the recently converted outfielder punched the ball in with less than one minute remaining to set up a last drive for the White team.
While the Graham-Hammernick gamewinning connection ultimately failed, Trifone was happy with the outcome, in addition to his team's demonstrated depth and chemistry, even so early this process.
"They're a great group of guys, and they're willing to work."
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