Lawrence struggled to find its offensive footing for much of last Saturday’s Nassau Conference III football finals rematch at Wantagh, but the end result was the same as the teams’ last meeting at Hofstra.
The Golden Tornadoes with help from six Warrior turnovers escaped their season opener with a 19-6 win in a game that remained in doubt close to the final buzzer. Defensive back Keaton Goldsby sealed the victory with a 29-yard interception return for a touchdown when Wantagh was seeking a late game-tying score.
“We had a week less of the preseason and I think it showed today,” Lawrence head coach Joe Martillotti said. “I think if we had practiced that extra week we would have been a little more prepared.”
The Lawrence offense didn’t appear rusty early on when it marched 97 yards on the opening drive capped off by a Norell Folaw 38-yard touchdown reception from Christian Fredericks. The drive was set up after Lawrence’s Javon Johnson recovered a fumble at the 3-yard line that spoiled an impressive first offensive possession for Wantagh where they drove 67 yards on six plays.
“Offensively we turned it over and showed some of our inexperience, but we also showed our potential,” Wantagh head coach Keith Sachs said. “Our best ball is ahead of us.”
Wantagh cut the score to one with a 73-yard second quarter march that was highlighted by a 33-yard run from Nick Teresky and capped by a one-yard quarterback sneak from quarterback Peter Delgais. The ensuing extra point was wide left.
Lawrence extended its lead early in the third quarter following a fumble recovery at the Wantagh 23. Fredericks scored on a two-yard quarterback keeper to make it 13-6. The senior quarterback rushed for 67 yards and threw for 160 yards through the air.
“There was a lot of things we did wrong and we still came away with a win so I’m happy,” Martillotti said.
Wantagh junior running back Michael Lombardi was the Warriors’ biggest offensive standout with 128 yards before suffering a knee injury early in the fourth quarter. Teresky also shined out of the backfield with 79 yards on the ground.
Sachs said he was impressed with his team’s defensive effort in holding Lawrence in check for most of the second half despite often giving the Golden Tornadoes possessions with a short field to the end zone. Tom von Bargen and Teresky both recorded interceptions.
“Our defense in the second half was phenomenal,” Sachs said. “They really stepped up and gave us a shot multiple times to score offensively.”
Wantagh will look to rebound this Saturday at Valley Stream North, while Lawrence hosts Lynbrook in its home opener. Martillotti said he would not be surprised if a rematch with Wantagh takes place in November when both teams are more at peak form.
“They are one of the best programs in the county,” he said. “I have a feeling we will see them again.”