After an uncharacteristic back-and-forth offensive battle between No. 3 Plainedge and No 6 Lynbrook, it was the defense that made a game saving play. Joe Bouse made a strip tackle and fumble recovery that led to Nick Frenger finding Nick Cupolo for the go-ahead 16-yard touchdown with 40 seconds remaining to lead Plainedge to a 54-41 win in a Nassau League III quarterfinal.
Frenger finished the game 19-for-25 for 278 yards and four touchdowns, returning after missing Plainedge's last two regular season games -- both loses.
Latest HS sports stories
"We're a different team with him," coach Rob Shaver said. "He made every play we asked him to make. He just didn't miss; he's so good."
But it almost wasn't enough.
Lynbrook's Danny Kelly punched in a one-yard touchdown run with 1:45 remaining to tie the game, 41-41, before the Red Devils marched down the field. The drive for Plainedge (7-2) was abruptly stopped at the Lynbrook 17-yard line but kicker Dan Stock pushed the 34-yard field goal attempt wide right. That left Lynbrook with an opportunity to mirror their week eight regular season win over Plainedge when they kicked a field goal with no time remaining.
Unlike the 17-14 defensive battle the two teams engaged in just prior to the playoffs the scoreboard continued to light up until the final seconds Saturday.
As Frenger and the offense sat on the sideline it was Bouse who saved the day, crashing through the line and causing a fumble and then recovering it, giving Plainedge new life. "It was a major momentum swing," Shaver said. "The whole game was back and forth and back and forth."
It was from there that Frenger found Cupolo for the winning score, one of three receiving touchdowns on the day for Cupolo.
John Logan recovered a fumble in the end zone to provide the final margin as Lynbrook franticly tried to score on the games final play as time expired.
"I think it was the lack of practice time with the storms that showed defensively," Shaver said, explaining the final score. "Neither team was able to make adjustments defensively."
In the end the Plainedge offense did just enough and it took a great individual effort to help the Red Devils keep its season alive.