It took the football team just over 44 minutes to capture its first lead of the day Saturday, but that was all Big Red needed to knock off the Sewanhaka Indians, 35-28.
In their first home game this year, Big Red (1-2) showed a resiliency that it has exhibited in each game so far. Despite the defense giving up 20 first-half points, quarterback Will Kassar's four-touchdown performance helped propel his team to its first victory of the season.
“They knew they could beat this team,” Coach Pete Kopecky said. “They were excited because they knew that they were big, that everything was as advertised but the kids knew that [the Indians] are going to slow down because their guys go both ways and our guys go one way so it worked to our advantage.”
After Indians running back Malik Morris scored his third touchdown of the game midway through third quarter, Big Red found itself trailing 28-14. On the ensuing drive, Kassar led a calculated nine-play, 61-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown pass to Jonathan Fiorino to pull the team within seven.
Trailing by a touchdown, Big Red's defense came up with the first of three big turnovers in the fourth quarter, stripping the ball from Morris's grasp as he tested the right side. Starting the drive with a short field, Kassar threaded the needle between two defenders and connected with receiver Anthony Famigletti on the second play for a 10-yard touchdown.
With the score even at 28, the Big Red defense recovered another fumble at midfield with about seven minutes remaining. This time, however, they were unable to capitalize as they failed to convert on fourth-and-10 from the Indians 30-yard-line.
After turning the ball over on downs with just under five minutes left in regulation, Big Red's defense came up with the their third turnover of the fourth quarter. A pass, floated up across the field, was stepped in front of by Big Red's Bobby McDonald, and he weaved his way down to the Sewanhaka 9-yard-line to set up a first-and-goal for Big Red's offense.
With just 9 yards left to take the lead, Big Red needed only three plays, punctuated by a touchdown pass by Kassar to McDonald, who controlled his body and came down in bounds as he made a falling catch in the back-corner of the endzone.
The Big Red defense then forced a turnover on downs at the Indians 48-yard-line as Sewanhaka failed to convert a fourth-and-17 with just over a minute left in regulation. That was enough time for Kassar to take the traditional kneel-downs to end the game.
Hero: Bobby McDonald, playing his first game of the season after missing the first two, gave his team a chance to take the lead with his fourth quarter interception. His touchdown catch on the ensuing drive with just under five minutes to go in regulation sealed the win for Big Red.
“[McDonald] is one of our leaders, he's one of our captains,” Kopecky said. “He's vocal, he rallies the team. When he came back this week, it was a fantastic boost.
Quotable: “[Kassar] was on fire today.” Kopecky said. “He had a superior day on Thursday in practice. He was hitting everything and the receivers were catching everything. Then they were talking about rain so the one advantage we had was going to be down the tubes. So you can give this one to the man upstairs, I guess. He held up that rain for us."
Bottom Line: This was a win Big Red needed. Not only did their defense show that they can be stout when they need to, but Kassar's performance through the air showed that they do not have to rely on their running game as their primary source of offense in certain situations. With those now established, they will hope it could translate into another win when they play host to the top-seeded Lawrence next Saturday.
Key Stat: After being gashed for two touchdown runs of 83 and 54 yards in the first quarter, the Big Red defense only allowed four runs of ten yards or more the remainder of the game.
Who's Next: Lawrence @ Glen Cove, Oct. 1, 5 p.m.
Nassau Conference III Football
TEAMS...............1......2......3......4 -- F
Sewanhaka......14......6......8......0 -- 28
Glen Cove..........7....14......0....14 -- 35
S – Morris 77-yard run (kick good)
GC – Fiorino 68-yard catch (kick good)
S – Ford 54-yard run (kick good)
S – Morris 3-yard run (kick failed)
GC – Saperstein 1-yard run (kick good)
S – Morris 5-yard run (2-point conversion good)
GC – Fiorino 4-yard catch (kick good)
GC – Famigletti 11-yard catch (kick good)
GC – McDonald 7-yard catch (kick good)