Erik Adon rammed his way into the end zone in overtime and the celebration was on. The East Islip halfback took a handoff going to his left, found nowhere to run, reversed his field and beat the cornerback to the edge before flying down the visitors' sideline for a 15-yard scoring run as East Islip upset Smithtown West, 22-16, Friday night in a thrilling Suffolk II football semifinal before more than 2,000 in Smithtown.
Adon dived through two defenders at the goal line and immediately was mobbed as the East Islip sideline emptied into the end zone.
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"I saw an opportunity to cut back and make something happen," said Adon, who rushed for 164 yards on 24 carries. "And once I got outside, no one was stopping me. What an awesome feeling."
East Islip (8-2) will make a Suffolk-record 18th appearance in the final against the winner of Saturday's Newfield-Riverhead game.
"Smithtown West had the most talent in the county and should have been the number one seed, not us," said East Islip coach Sal J. Ciampi, who led the Redmen to their sixth trip to the county final in eight years. "We had five significant players out with injury and our boys came to play and showed great resolve and resilience. This is one of our proudest moments."
Smithtown West (8-2) had the ball first in overtime but failed to score when a 45-yard field-goal attempt fell just short of the crossbar. The Bulls' drive in overtime was short-circuited when defensive tackle Bobby Heyward sacked quarterback Matt Heldberg for an 11-yard loss.
"He was looking downfield and never saw me coming," Heyward said. "And I just laid it on him."
If there were any questions as to the running ability of Heldberg, that was squashed. The quarterback was nimble and quick and his big runs kept the Bulls in the game.
Heldberg's 12-yard scramble set up the first touchdown. On a fourth-and-16, Heldberg, with great protection, waited for slot man Kyle Mathie to clear the secondary and fired a perfect 33-yard TD pass for a 6-0 lead with 11:40 left in the half.
Heldberg helped the Bulls extend the lead when he rushed 65 yards to the East Islip 10 to set up John Pavacic's 32-yard field goal for a 9-0 lead.
East Islip responded on its next drive by moving from its 29 to the Bulls' 5 to set up a Jake Piacenti 22-yard field goal with 16 seconds left in the half to get within 9-3.
The Redmen opened the second half with a four-play, 59-yard touchdown drive. Halfback Matt Walter punctuated the march with a 7-yard burst up the middle for the score. The point-after kick was blocked by Andrew Lapreziosa to keep the score tied at 9. Walter's 1-yard scoring run with 8 seconds left in the third quarter gave the Redmen a 16-9 lead.Jake Piacenti kicked a 22-yard field goal and Matt Walter scored on 7- and 1-yard runs to give East Islip a 16-9 lead. Heldberg's 23-yard TD run and Pavacic's extra-point kick tied it at 16 with 11:13 left, setting up the overtime drama.
"This was special," said East Islip's Hugens Tranquille, starting his first game at quarterback. "I'll never forget this game."