Plainedge's Jessica Faranda runs during the Nassau Class B flag...

Plainedge's Jessica Faranda runs during the Nassau Class B flag football final against East Rockaway on Monday at Long Beach. Credit: Neil Miller

If you throw the ball up in the air, Jessica Faranda will likely come down with it.

The senior wide receiver made several highlight-reel catches for No. 5 Plainedge in its 19-7 win over No. 3 East Rockaway in the Nassau Conference II flag football championship on Monday night at Long Beach Middle School.

On Plainedge’s opening drive, Faranda went over a defender for a 27-yard reception before coming away with an 18-yard touchdown catch in double coverage to cap an eight-play, 60-yard drive that ended with a Red Devils' 6-0 lead.

Then with just over 16 minutes left in the second half and Plainedge facing a fourth-and-goal from the 14, Faranda caught another jump ball over two defenders for the final score of the county final.

“Plays like that where I’m jumping in the air for a ball, we do those plays so much in practice that they just work in the games,” Faranda said.

Following the opening drive, Plainedge quarterback Gianna Ponticello threw two interceptions, one of which set up a 2-yard rushing touchdown by Emma Van Wickler to give East Rockaway a 7-6 lead. But the Red Devils kept relying on their freshman quarterback, and she delivered.

“That’s in the past, so I just had to leave it in the past and stay in the game mentally,” Ponticello said.

Ponticello found Katelyn Tierney over the middle of the field for a 19-yard TD pass with 43 seconds left in the first half to give Plainedge a 13-7 lead.

“She made a couple of mistakes but East Rockaway plays really good defense and their safety was getting to the ball quick,” Plainedge coach Rob Shaver said. “But she’s our player and our receivers are really good. She dropped a few in the bucket and [Faranda and Tierney] helped her out on a few.”

Tierney also made a tough 15-yard catch on Plainedge’s opening drive. The senior had 34 receiving yards and 39 rushing yards.

“We’re able to get some of those high balls that some people can’t get to,” Faranda said. “We’ve been playing sports together since we were in sixth grade and we just work so well together. We’re a pain in the butt to cover.”

Ponticello, who threw three touchdowns passes, also intercepted a pass at the end of the first half. Isabella Alvarez and Van Wickler each had an interception for East Rockaway (9-6).

Plainedge (9-6) will face Sayville in the Long Island championship on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Long Beach Middle School. The Red Devils have won their last five games, with all three of their playoff wins coming against teams they lost to in the regular season.

“They’re starting to figure it out,” Shaver said. “It’s not like they’re just memorizing a play, they’re getting the whole concept now. We’re starting to really peak now.”


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