In the end, it took nothing fancy. No long fade routes into the end zone. No highlight-reel catches or acrobatic runs.
For West Hempstead to turn a tie score at halftime into a 28-14 win over East Rockaway in Nassau IV, all it took was a conscious effort to get back to the basics, nothing more than pounding and fighting for every yard.
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Or exactly what senior running backs Noel Beaubrun (5-7, 165 pounds), Tommy Cannisi (5-11, 185) and Vinny Messina (5-9, 185) do best.
"Together," Beaubrun said, "we're tough to deal with."
Added coach Dom Carre: "Anytime you have three legitimate options at running back, and you feel comfortable and you're confident with all of them, it's easy. I got three guys who can all carry the ball, do different things well. It's a luxury."
Beaubrun ran 21 times for 105 yards and a touchdown. Cannisi had 16 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown. Messina gained 35 yards on seven carries, including two touchdown runs. He also had 14 tackles.
Danny Fusco had an interception and 39-yard touchdown reception for East Rockaway (3-2). Quarterback Michael DelGais added a rushing touchdown.
With the score tied at 7, Beaubrun set up West Hempstead (3-2) at East Rockaway's 45-yard line after a 30-yard return on the opening kickoff of the third quarter. From there, West Hempstead was methodical: 11 plays -- all runs -- in five minutes, culminating in a one-yard plunge up the middle by Cannisi to give the Rams a 14-7 lead.
"That drive was huge," Cannisi said. "We knew if we could do something like that out of the break, it'd give us momentum.
"It was one of those games that you just had to grind out. East Rockaway's a tough, scrappy team like us. We prepared for them like they were a top seed."
East Rockaway's next possession lasted less than two minutes and ended with a punt. Seven minutes later, West Hempstead forced another 3 and out, thanks to a sack by Mike Staines on third down.
The Rams' next drive spanned 1:58 and five plays, and ended with Messina giving thanks to his offensive line in the end zone after a seven-yard dart up the middle that made it 20-7.
DelGais ran seven yards for a touchdown to bring East Rockaway to within 20-14 with 4:22 left in the fourth quarter, but Nick Magaraci recovered the ensuing onside kick for the Rams. Beaubrun's three-yard run to the left for a touchdown sealed it.
West Hempstead ran the ball 47 times and threw just 11 passes.
"Every game's a fight," Messina said. "That's what our coaches tell us. Today, we just had to regroup at halftime and get back to basics.
"We're not afraid to run it right at you."