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Sewanhaka beats Mepham, earns playoff spot

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Against all odds, Sewanhaka’s football season will continue.

The Indians entered last Saturday’s regular-season finale needing a victory and additional help to advance to the playoffs. They took care of their own business, beating visiting Mepham 28-7, and benefited from losses by Carey and Valley Stream Central to earn the fourth and final postseason berth in Nassau Conference II.

“We’ve been underdogs all season,” said senior captain Brian Lowry, who had two interceptions and a touchdown run as Sewanhaka won for the fourth time in five games. “We started with 25 guys and we’re down to 18,” he added. “Most of us are playing both sides of the ball and we had some young kids come up from JV to help out.”

Senior quarterback Rahul Krishan threw for two touchdowns and ran for a score in a performance Sewanhaka head coach George Kasimatis said was his finest of the season. “He was our JV quarterback as a freshman and transferred back after going to St. Mary’s for two years,” Kasimatis said. “He didn’t get as much time to prepare as he would’ve in the fall, but he’s worked and improved every week.”

Mepham (1-4) played without senior quarterback Billy Kender due to a high-ankle sprain and was in action for the first time in two weeks after being forced to quarantine. Sophomore Dominick Novello, one of Kender’s main targets in the passing game, spent most of the game in the backfield and got the Pirates on the board midway through the third quarter with a 15-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 21-7.

“It’s great we were able to have a season, especially for the seniors but also for the young guys to get experience,” Mepham head coach Anthony Cracco said. “We’re so young and these games will bode well for down the road. We’ll be turning around and getting ready for another season in just a few months.”

The Pirates committed four turnovers, including each of their first two possessions. Lowry returned his first interception 47 yards to the Mepham 13 late in the first quarter to set up Krishan’s 13-yard touchdown pass to senior Nicholas O’Shea.

Sewanhaka, the No. 7 preseason seed, led 6-0 when the Pirates drove inside the red zone before falling apart. A bad shotgun snap resulting in a 21-yard loss, followed by a delay of game penalty, took Mepham from second-and-1 to third-and-27 and eventually led to a fourth-down heave that O’Shea picked off.

Krishan’s 2-yard touchdown run and 2-point conversion pass to senior Tyler Harts increased the hosts lead to 14-0 just before halftime. Junior Jason Costa recovered a fumble on the second-half kickoff at the Mepham 27 which led to a scrambling Krishan connecting with senior Harman Singh for a picture-perfect touchdown.

“The kids have risen to the occasion all season,” Kasimatis said. “To make the playoffs is a great feeling.”

Seniors Jaheim Hall (seven tackles, one sack), Holy Gaboton and Frantz Compere led a Sewanhaka defense that allowed only 14 points in its four wins.