NORWALK -- Just another day at the office for the Darien football team.

As has been par for the course over the Blue Wave's last three games, Darien participated in a seesaw battle that came down to the game's final play, only this time was for a trip to the Class L state semifinals against defending champ Daniel Hand at McMahon High School.

After Hand marched 40 yards in six plays to take a one-point advantage with 5:06 remaining on a five-yard dive by Dan Rogers, Darien's offense took control of the ball. The Blue Wave marched 69 yards in 12 plays, milking the clock down to five seconds to set up Daly Hebert for a potential game-winning field goal.

"It was a championship drive against a very good team. I don't care that they're 8-3; they're Hand," Darien coach Rob Trifone said. "I told Daly all year long that you're going to win a game for us someday. Of course it had to be a state quarterfinal."

Hebert's 18-yard kick perfectly split the uprights as time expired to knock off the defending state champions and send the top-seeded Blue Wave (11-1) to Saturday's state semifinals against No. 4 Middletown (11-1) at 2 p.m. at Pomperaug.

"Our last three games have come down to the wire and it's been incredible," Darien quarterback Silas Wyper said. "We were down on the final drive, and we pulled through. Daly Hebert really epitomized our teams personality on that final kick: Not bending to the pressure and pulling through."

Darien threw everything but the kitchen sink at Hand on its final drive, using eight runs and four passes to set up Hebert's chip shot. On the drive, Wyper completed three-of-four passes for 26 yards and Jay Harrison carried four times for 25 yards.

Darien took a 3-0 lead on its first possession of the game, but Hand held a 14-3 lead late into the second quarter on a 39-yard pick six by Reid Sweitzer and a 54-yard sweep right by Tommy Wilson on third-and-19.

Two plays after a 46-yard punt by Hebert pinned the Tigers (9-3) on their own four, Darien's Matt Vossler stuffed Hand in the backfield for a safety with 3:17 left in the first half, cutting the Blue Wave's deficit to 14-5. Darien needed just three plays on its ensuing possession to make it 14-12 on a 14-yard run up the middle by Harrison. Mark Evanchick forced a Hand fumble on its next possession, Jack Tyrell returned it to the two and Wyper scored on a two-yard dive two plays later to make it 19-14 Darien with 48 ticks left in the half.

"Thank God (for the points at the end of the first half)," Trifone said. "The strange thing is we really outplayed them, but we gave up some plays that kept them in the game."

"We self-destructed for a five-minute period, and we're partially to blame for that. We put our kids in situations where bad things could happen, and they did," Hand coach Steve Filippone said. "We held our own against a really good FCIAC team tonight."

Hebert's second field goal boosted Darien's lead to 22-14 early in the third quarter, but an interception by Hand's Hayden Atwater put the Tigers in business at the Darien four. Two plays later, Rogers scored on a two-yard dive and also took care of the two-pointer for the 22-22 tie.

"I don't think anyone knows how far this team has come. It's a huge testament to the coaches and the kids," Filippone said. "I've got to give huge credit to Hayden Atwater. He intercepted that ball, we needed him on a fourth down when he made a big play for us. That kid is the epitome of what our football team is all about. That kid is Hand football."

Darien retook the lead on its next play from scrimmage at 28-22, a 66-yard bomb from Wyper to Lombardo.

HAND 14 0 8 7--29

DARIEN 3 16 9 3--31

D--Daly Hebert 26 field goal

H--Reid Sweitzer 39 interception return (Tyler Phan kick)

H--Tommy Wilson 54 run (Phan kick)

D--Safety, Matt Vossler makes tackle in end zone

D--Jay Harrison 20 run (Hebert kick)

D--Silas Wyper 2 run (Hebert kick)

D--Hebert 26 field goal

H--Dan Rogers 2 run (Rogers run)

D--Nick Lombardo 66 pass Wyper (kick failed)

H--Rogers 5 run (Phan kick)

D--Hebert 18 field goal

Records: Hand 8-4; Darien 11-1