Massapequa utilized some thunder from its running backs and lightning from its big-play defense to outlast host Freeport, 27-14, Thursday night in a Nassau I game delayed by lightning for nearly two hours at halftime.
The Chiefs, the conference's preseason No. 1 seed, looked very deserving of that designation with a dominating first half. They built a 27-0 halftime lead on the strength of two short touchdown runs by bruising fullback/linebacker Paul Dilena, who also registered a sack on the game's first series; a 4-yard run by quarterback Matt Caracappa and a 6-yard TD pass from Caracappa to a leaping Jim Byrns.
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"We have guys who can make plays and we did a good job in the first half," Massapequa coach Kevin Shippos said. "But that delay really took its toll. Our guys sat around for an hour and a half and they got complacent because we had such a big lead."
When the game resumed in a drizzle at about 9:30, Freeport supplied some jolts of its own. The Red Devils, buoyed by a small but spirited group of fans who remained after the delay, recovered a Massapequa fumble on the first possession of the half. That led to a 6-yard TD pass from Davelle Hooks to 5-5 Shawnee Barrett, the quarterback's favorite target all night.
Freeport forced a Massapequa punt on the next possession and Barrett caught four passes from Hooks, including a 39-yarder, to set up a 12-yard TD pass from Hooks to Kearney Gutierrez. Barrett's two-point conversion reception made it 27-14.
"We didn't finish well, but we did what we needed to do," Shippos said. Especially Jack Korber, his own little big man at 5-7.
Korber had set up the Chiefs' second TD of the first quarter when he scooped up a fumble and raced 51 yards to the Freeport 24. He came up big again in the fourth quarter as Freeport tried to continue its surge.
On first-and-10 from the Red Devils' 37, Hooks aimed a pass for Barrett cutting across the middle. Korber timed his move and made a leaping interception. Several powerful inside runs by Andrew Rogers helped take time off the clock, and the Chiefs were out of danger. Of the deciding interception, Shippos said, "We got some pressure on the quarterback and Jack read the play and broke well on the ball."
He added, "Those turnovers were big momentum-changers. Jack is a senior, a three-year starter, and he has the experience to make those kinds of plays."
Barrett had 13 catches, nine in the second half, for 126 yards plus his TD and conversion. He also had an electrifying 28-yard punt return in the third quarter. He supplied his own lightning after the storm, but Freeport didn't quite have enough juice.