Lawrence beats Huntington, 41-32, for Long Island Class III football crown
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The touchdowns were coming at a dizzying pace. First it was Lawrence scoring on two straight possessions. Then Huntington scored on its next two possessions.
The furious pace of the first quarter forced Lawrence quarterback Joe Capobianco to think about the last time he'd been to Stony Brook's LaValle Stadium, in the 2011 Long Island Championships. He had set all kinds of personal records and his team had scored 61 points -- only to lose to Sayville by 17 in the highest-scoring game in state history.
"I thought, 'We're not doing this again,' " Capobianco said. "Personal records mean nothing when you lose. I didn't want that to happen again."
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Capobianco responded to Huntington's challenge by completing 14 of 20 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns Saturday as Lawrence beat the Blue Devils, 41-32, to capture the Long Island Class III championship. It was the second straight Long Island title for Lawrence (11-1) which has won four of its eight appearances on the big stage.
Capobianco's third and final touchdown pass was the 100th of his three-year career and gave the Golden Tornadoes a 27-12 second-quarter lead.
"I threw for 541 yards and we lost to Sayville here two years ago, so the record was meaningless," said Capobianco, the only quarterback to start three straight Long Island championship games. "But when you win and set a record like 100 touchdown passes, well, that's pretty meaningful."
It didn't take long to get there, as Capobianco had three scoring passes in the first 20:29. He hit Sam Locascio on a 13-yard scoring pass on the Golden Tornadoes' first drive and added an 82-yarder to streaking Elijah Jones in the first quarter.
"They were in man coverage and daring him to throw," said Jones, who had four catches for 189 yards. "They decided to take away the run and we went up top."
Capobianco's 100th career touchdown pass came on a fourth-and-13 play from the Huntington 22. Capobianco threw a screen pass to junior halfback Jordan Fredericks, who, accompanied by three blockers, cruised into the end zone untouched.
"The defense was cracking down on the end and totally bought the fake," said Fredericks, who caught three passes for 55 yards and added 124 yards rushing. "I wanted him to get 100 TD passes more than he did. I wanted to be a part of it."
Huntington (8-4) responded with a 42-yard touchdown run by Levar Butts, his second scoring run of the first half, to get within 27-18 with 3:20 left in the second quarter. That gave Capobianco and company plenty of time to score again. He marched the Golden Tornadoes 60 yards in four plays, capped by Fredericks' 30-yard scoring run, for a 34-18 halftime lead.
"We worked the clock in the second half and didn't throw much," Capobianco said. "It was fine with me as long as we got the win."
Butts, who rushed for 133 yards on 14 carries, added a 44-yard touchdown run with 8:51 left in the third quarter, and Troy Greene's two-point conversion run got the Blue Devils within 34-26.
With all that offensive firepower, who would have thought that Lawrence would seal the crown with the defensive play of the game? Junior defensive end Mike Spinelli forced a fumble at the Huntington 3 and the ball bounded into the end zone, where Sean Moran recovered it for the touchdown and a 41-26 lead.
"It happened so fast," Spinelli said. "I hit him and the ball came out and Sean jumped on it. It didn't hit me yet. But when I go home and lay down in my bed, it'll hit me. It's just the best feeling."
Capobianco reflected for a bit after his final game for Lawrence.
"It's been about a lot of hard work and a lot of trust," he said. "I've had great receivers, outstanding protection and great coaches. And in big spots, they trusted me to throw the football."
And for that, the Golden Tornadoes are two-time defending Class III champions.