This is how you set up a trick play: You tighten up the defense by pounding inside the tackles, making the defenders creep closer to the line to stop the run. In return, you take the punishment that the swarming opponent doles out. It's part of the bigger plan.
It worked perfectly for Floyd Saturday as the Colonials erased a six-point halftime deficit and scored 20 unanswered points to upset previously unbeaten Commack, 28-14, before a standing-room-only crowd of more than 3,000 in Commack.
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No. 4 Floyd (8-2), the two-time defending Long Island Class I champion, will meet No. 3 Sachem North (8-2) for the Suffolk I title at Stony Brook University's LaValle Stadium at noon next Sunday. Floyd has eliminated Sachem North in the playoffs four years in a row and has a six-game winning streak against the Flaming Arrows.
Floyd halfback Chris Faison was held to 22 yards on 17 carries in the first half as the Commack defense smothered the Colonials' running game. So with the Commack defense aggressively defending against the run, the Colonials opened the third quarter with a trick play they had never used. Timing is everything.
Floyd coach Paul Longo reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out the option pass. On the first play of the third quarter, Faison took a toss right and gave the illusion of another running play, prompting Commack's defense to come up hard to stop the run. But Faison pulled up, cocked his right arm and threw a perfect pass to a streaking Keith Church for 73 yards to the Commack one-foot line.
Quarterback Eric Brust scored on the next play, and the ensuing kick by Pat DeMaio gave the Colonials a 15-14 lead.
"We've been repping the option pass for weeks," Longo said. "We needed a big play. They're a great team, 9-0 record, and were stopping our run cold."
It was the first pass of the season for Faison, a centerfielder with a cannon for an arm.
"They were killing it inside, just a punishing defense," Faison said. "They were stacking the box and we kept pounding them, but they wouldn't give. I was frustrated in the first half. I don't like to get stopped."
Commack (9-1) opened the scoring on its first play. Quarterback Rob Paccione fired a pass down the middle of the field and hit sophomore Augie Contressa in stride for a 75-yard score. Billy Holscher added the kick and Commack led 7-0 just 18 seconds in.
Floyd then embarked on a time-consuming 16-play, 79-yard march capped by Vin LaBate's 8-yard scoring run. Faison's two-point run made it 8-7 with 8:57 left in the half.
Brust keyed the drive with two big runs and a 21-yard pass to Jawan Jenkins for a first down. "We ran read option and they were all over Faze [Faison] and I had room to run," said Brust, who had 58 yards on 16 carries.
Commack regained the lead before the half ended. A 13-yard pass to Contressa set up a 1-yard scoring run by fullback Jesse Kilmetis with 46 seconds left for a 14-8 lead.
"We outplayed them for a half," said Paccione, who completed 7 of 22 passes for 155 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. "They made adjustments and that option pass . . . "
Brust added a 21-yard scoring pass to Nick Martucci to make it 21-14. Then Faison found that one hole in the Cougars' defense, zigzagging his way through the secondary for a 79-yard touchdown run with 3:10 left in the third quarter.
"You just have to break loose that one time," Faison said.
Or break out the trick play.