East Meadow overcame a 21-point first-half deficit and a pair of turnovers, but the Jets couldn’t overcome the consistent big plays produced by Massapequa in their Nassau Conference I football playoff matchup at Roslyn High School last Saturday.
The fifth-seeded Chiefs (7-3 overall) had three different players score on plays of at least 29 yards, including a late 62-yard touchdown run to by Paul Dilena, and knock off defending champion East Meadow (7-3), 43-29.
“We try to get the ball in our athletes hands as much as possible,” Massapequa head coach Kevin Shippos said.
Leading by seven with just over two minutes remaining and East Meadow angling to force a punt, the Chiefs faced a third-and-11 from their own 38-yard line when Dilena took a Paul Bentz handoff, followed his block into a hole on the right side of the line and didn’t stop until he hit the end zone. “We made too many mistakes to win a game of this caliber,” Jets head coach Vin Mascia said.
The run by Dilena came one possession after Massapequa forged ahead 36-29 midway through the fourth quarter when senior Harry Lowe battled Jets senior Robbie Bergmann for a jumpball in the front of the end zone and pulled down a 29-yard touchdown pass from Bentz. The scoring drive featured a fourth-down conversion for the Chiefs from the Jets 38 and covered 69 yards over nine plays.
Stifled for much of the first half, fourth-seeded East Meadow’s offense, led by senior quarterback Chris Buschi, made a spirited comeback from a 21-0 second-quarter deficit. Buschi capped a four-play, 68-yard drive early in the fourth with a 10-yard touchdown run and completed the two-point conversion with a pass to junior tight end Chika Ewulu to give the Jets their first and only lead, 29-28. Junior Billy Andrle, held in check for much of the first half, jump-started the drive by ripping off a 39-yard run on the first play of the drive. He ran for 115 of his 145 yards in the second half and had a pair of touchdowns on 16 total carries. “It was a tale of two halves for us,” Shippos said. “In the first half we stuffed them but in the second half they came out and started picking up the tempo. To East Meadow’s credit, they battled back.”
The fight to get back in the game came via explosive plays — junior Bobby Bender pulled down a perfectly thrown ball by Buschi in between three defenders and turned it into a 75-yard touchdown — and by patiently sticking with the ground game. Andrle had a 1-yard scoring run on the opening drive of the second half, with all 82 of the yards coming on rushing plays.
“They did a couple of things to take away what we do [in the first half] and then we made some adjustments,” Mascia said.