Chris Parler, James Forkin lead Long Beach's win
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Long Beach has dominated so surreptitiously in Nassau II, that, for a moment Friday night, even the full-house homecoming crowd didn't know if it was time to get up and cheer.
With about five minutes left in the first quarter, Obe Isaac tried to field a Westbury punt and, in the process, slipped on the slick turf, and was interfered with. The ball hit the ground and took a welcoming bounce to Chris Parler, who picked it up at the Green Dragons' 45 and powered for a touchdown untouched. The yellow flags went flying, Parler stood serenely in the end zone, and the assemblage at the middle school football field gave a collective shrug.
The eventual call: interference on Westbury for hitting Isaac. The result: an early lead. The fan reaction: OK, now we can go ahead and scream.
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As for the game? Well, that was far less of a question, as the Marines scored three times in the first half and went on to win, 38-7, thus becoming the first four-game winner in the competitive Nassau II. Not bad for a team that was seeded sixth going into the season and finished last year 5-4.
"We had the whole town telling us we couldn't be as good as last year," said James Forkin, who had 114 yards on 14 carries. "But we've been working hard all summer . . . We've put in a lot of hard work."
After Parler's touchdown, the Marines scored on their first drive of the second quarter -- Mark Sutton's 2-yard dive with 9:30 left in the frame. That touchdown capped an eight-play drive highlighted by three explosive runs by Forkin, for 9, 17 and 16 yards. On second-and-17 on the Westbury 35, Adam Salvadori faked the handoff to Forkin, instead pitching it to Parler, who, deep in the backfield, emerged around the right side and took off for a 33-yard gain, setting up the touchdown.
While the offense clicked along smoothly -- scoring again about seven minutes later on Salvadori's 14-yard pass to Parler -- the defense was relentless. Ryan Ward collected two of the team's four sacks, and Long Beach forced the Green Dragons to go three-and-out six times. Westbury (1-3) was held to 31 yards of offense in the first half and didn't score until Shalike Merchant's 5-yard touchdown with 4:41 left in the game.
Even when things went wrong for Long Beach, they went right. On second-and-8 on the opening drive of the third quarter, Salvadori corralled a low snap and sneaked through a hole up the middle, scoring untouched on the 29-yard QB draw. After another Westbury three-and-out (facilitated by a deflected pass by Zamarr Allen), Long Beach scored again, this time on a 5-yard touchdown by Isaac, who slipped through off right tackle for a 38-0 lead.
"The offensive line was opening up holes, there was big running room and our defense was lights out," Forkin said. "We still have a lot of hard work to do . . . but we believe we can beat anyone in the conference."
Nothing quiet about that.