DARIEN — Tim Graham was in need of a boost. The scene was inside the Darien High School locker room during halftime of Thursday’s game with St. Joseph.
The Cadets trailed, 10-0. Graham’s first pass was intercepted. He was 2 for 10, with as many completions to St. Joseph players as his own.
Seniors George Reed, Will Hamernick and Tim Lochtefeld approached their quarterback.
“They came up to me and said you’re a junior and there are 10 other people on the field with you,” Graham recalled. “It meant a lot to me. They had my back.”
Graham repaid the confidence in the second half. Throwing just five passes, he completed the last four, the final two touchdowns that finished off a rally from a 17-0 deficit for a 21-17 win.
“He threw two great balls,” Darien coach Rob Trifone said. “All I can tell you is I’ve been all over him about poise and keeping his cool. You know what, he’s bought in. You’re going to throw picks, you’re going to fumble the ball.”
In one of the biggest games of the year, with the winner having the inside track to the FCIAC championship game, Graham said one of the keys to the comeback was maintaining belief.
“I was down, but we knew we could come back, one score at a time,” Graham said.
Darien had just scored to get within 17-7 when Hudson Hamill’s interception gave it the ball back on the Cadets’ 33. On the ensuing play, with 22 seconds left in the third quarter, Graham lofted a ball into the corner of the end zone and Todd Herget outjumped a St. Joseph defender to cut the lead to three points.
“I kept my composure for all four quarters,” Graham said. “The guys kept rallying around me, saying we got this, we got this. The defense helped us out and got us good field position.”
The defense quickly put the ball back in Graham’s hands, this time forcing a fumble with a strip and recovering at the St. Joseph 37. This time Graham needed two plays. On a perfect play-action fake, he hit Colin Minicus from 35 yards out with what proved to be the winning score.
“In the first half we were doing some bubble plays and their corner kept coming down on the ball,” Graham said. “Colin came uncovered on the go and I just threw it to him.”
The look on Graham’s face as he left the field Thursday was a contrast to the one his senior teammates saw at halftime.
“It felt amazing,” Graham said. “The defense started getting stops and it got better and better. The student section was into it. It was a great atmosphere.”