Jason Seiter isn’t a ball hog, he’s a ballhawk. The quarterback/safety wants to control the ball on offense and defense. If he’s on defense . . . well, he’ll just have to take it. Seiter was not shy about stealing last Saturday when he made four interceptions in No. 5 Bethpage’s 28-12 win over No. 4 Plainedge in the Nassau III quarterfinals.
Seiter also threw and ran for a touchdown. But it was the defensive thievery that tied a Long Island record and earned him Newsday Athlete of the Week honors.
“Our coach put us in good spots and everyone else covered their guys well,” Seiter, who doesn’t believe he’s ever had more than one interception in a game before last weekend, said. “Our line got good pressure on the quarterback and I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time.”
The performance headlined a Bethpage defense that, in Seiter’s words, turned in a “bend-but-don’t-break” performance against Plainedge, limiting damage to a few big plays without being hurt too much on the scoreboard.
“Whenever they got close to our end zone, we just had some nice fourth-down stops and just came together to make big plays,” Seiter said. “The outcome was good for us.”
Bethpage scored twice in the fourth quarter to put the game away. Seiter’s three-yard touchdown run gave the Golden Eagles a 20-12 lead. Seiter rushed for 53 yards on seven carries and a touchdown and threw for 112 yards and a touchdown, while completing 6-of-15 passes.
The fact that Seiter threw 15 passes is rather noteworthy. Under coach Erwin Dill, Bethpage runs a wishbone offense, a system that keeps the ball primarily on the ground. But Seiter has gotten some chances to throw this year and he thinks it adds a new dimension to the offense.
“It’s great to have the coaches behind us,” he said. “If we’re driving down the field running the ball and then surprise them with a throw, it’s always good to have that in the playbook.”
Seiter and his upset-minded, turnover-happy Golden Eagles will look to advance to the Nassau III finals when they face top-seed Lawrence 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Hofstra in the semifinals. Bethpage lost a 35-31 heartbreaker to Lawrence on Oct. 7 and are looking to return the favor and then-some.
14-unanswered points, including a 95-yard kick-off return by Chris Collier, lifted Lawrence in that early-October matchup.
“It came down to a few crucial plays that didn’t go our way,” Seiter said.
This week Bethpage has looked at both the video from last week’s playoff victory and the regular season loss to Lawrence, Seiter said, with an eye on building off last week’s success and learning from the Oct. 7 failures.
“They obviously have some good players in (Christian) Fredericks and Collier,” Seiter said. “I just think we need to contain them and be able to move the ball on offense.”
Four interceptions might help, too.