East Meadow edges Baldwin, 9-7

Last-minute TD, last-play INT lift Jets


East Meadow’s Chris Buschi wasn’t looking for clearance when he took to the air on the end of a fourth-down run late in the fourth quarter of a Conference I football battle with Baldwin. But when the Jets senior quarterback landed at the Bruins 36, no one could argue with the decision. His scamper netted 12 yards — East Meadow needed nine for the first down — and extended what became the game-winning drive in a 9-7 Jets victory.

“[Chris] Buschi is going to give you every ounce of effort and will on every single play that he runs,” East Meadow coach Vin Mascia said.

Junior fullback Billy Andrle (20 carries, 101 rushing yards), who later added runs of seven and 12 yards on the drive, scored the Jets only touchdown with less than a minute remaining on a three-yard run.

Bruins senior Johnathan Robinson returned the ensuing kickoff 24 yards to the Jets 42, but the game-ended when junior quarterback Tyler Warner’s final pass attempt was picked off in the end zone by East Meadow senior Robbie Bergmann. “This was classic football,” Mascia said. “It was 1970s football. Who was going to be able to stop the run [and win]?”

Warner led a 14-play, 76-yard drive in the fourth quarter that ended with a 4-yard touchdown run by senior Jovaun Tomlinson and gave the Bruins (3-2) a short-lived 7-3 lead. Warner had completions of 10 and 23 yards on the drive, the latter of which was a conversion on third-and-20 to junior Vinny Walker from his own 25. He also converted a third-and-1 from the East Meadow 7 on a keeper, squirting through the line for three yards one play before Tomlinson scored.

Tomlinson, who had runs of 11 and 12 yards on the scoring drive and 67 on 12 attempts overall, was held in check for much of the afternoon by the East Meadow defense. “Our line wasn’t clicking,” Baldwin coach Steve Carroll said. “They loaded up the box and sent people right away. We just couldn’t get it done, but they fought until the end.”

For the first 58 minutes, the only points scored came on the first career field-goal (and attempt) by Jets senior kicker Kyle Bettex, who converted from 29 yards out with eight seconds left in the first half. For Carroll, a strong week of practice leading up to the matchup, including great work by the scout team, went a long way to slowing down East Meadow’s versatile option attack. “The kids played well and remembered what they were supposed to do and where they were [supposed to be],” Carroll said.

Like the Bruins, the Jets defense also turned in a spirited effort. Loaded with juniors — seven are in the starting lineup — things seemed to come together for East Meadow (4-1) with senior lineman Chris Green (eight tackles) leading the way. “It was a real pride game for them,” Mascia said. “They won the game, from the gameplan by the coaches to the execution by the players. We made tackles against some special backs.”