Trailing at halftime for the first time in two years and with dual-threat senior quarterback Terrance Edmond severely hobbled by an ankle injury, Freeport didn’t push the panic button in last Friday’s Long Island Class I football championship game.
“We always work hard,” junior Jayvian Allen said. “We just knew we had to work that much harder.”
Senior Makhai Jinks rushed for three of his five touchdowns in the second half and the defense forced three takeaways, including two by Allen, as the Red Devils pulled away from William Floyd to repeat as L.I. champs with a 42-14 victory before a crowd of 2,500 at Stony Brook University.
Freeport (12-0) closed with 29 unanswered points to win its 24th straight game after the Colonials (11-1) produced a masterful 25-play, 11:20 scoring drive in the second quarter to lead 14-13 at halftime. It’s the seventh L.I. crown for the Red Devils, who pushed their all-time record against Floyd to a remarkable 6-0. Last year’s LIC was a 20-19 nailbiter.
“We respect the heck out of that program,” Freeport head coach Russ Cellan said. “Everybody here knows the scoreboard isn’t indicative of what a hard-fought game this really was. I’m proud of each and every one of our guys. They came to work every day and all year they only worried about the next team on the schedule.”
The Red Devils bulldozed through their Nassau opponents on the way to winning back-to-back county titles. Jinks had 167 yards on the ground, three touchdowns and nine tackles to lead a 30-7 win over Farmingdale in the Conference I final at Hofstra on Nov. 21. He followed with 10 tackles, 87 yards and touchdowns of 8, 1, 5, 4 and 2 yards against Floyd.
“It’s never been a question of Makhai having the talent,” Cellan said. “We knew he was a capable back. He just had to wait his turn.”
The roles of Jinks and Allen became that much more important early last Friday when Edmond rolled his left ankle on a 17-yard scramble on the fourth play of the game. “We had to adjust our play-calling but as long as Terrance was able to hand off and run the offense, we’re OK,” Cellan said. “He’s our leader and they guys needed to see him out there. I needed to see him out there.”
Edmond had three carries for 21 yards, completed only one pass and never stepped on the field on defense. “There was no way I was coming out,” he said. “My teammates…they had my back. I knew with Makhai and Jayvian and the offensive line, we’d make it work.”
Both offenses went 2-for-2 in the first half. The Red Devils had scoring drives covering 65 and 82 yards, however Floyd answered each time including a LIC-record 78-yard march that burned almost the entire second quarter and featured four fourth-down conversions.
The Colonials received the second-half kickoff as well. On the second snap of the second half Allen made a game-altering defensive play when he stripped the ball from Floyd fullback Tyler Gonzalez just shy of midfield and returned the fumble to the 19. Three plays later, Jinks was in the end zone and the Red Devils led 21-14 after senior Dakari Stevenson’s two-point conversion. “Jayvian’s play was the turning point,” Cellan said.
Freeport never trailed again and took advantage of prime field possession at the Floyd 41 after a shanked punt early in the fourth quarter. It was 28-14 with 10:01 remaining following Jinks’ fourth touchdown. Senior Jonathan Arrevillaga’s interception on the ensuing possession set up Allen’s 11-yard touchdown run and it was 35-14 with 7:43 left. Jinks iced it with his eighth touchdown in two games with 4:30 to go.
“So many of us have played together since third grade,” standout senior lineman Myles Norris said. “We’re a family and this is how we wanted the season to end.”