Bennett, Wiggins all smiles as Longwood beats Lindy
His smile had enough wattage to provide his own set of Friday night lights. It went from ear to ear. Sideline to sideline. Goalpost to goalpost. "I was born with the nickname," Dave (Smiley) Bennett said.
The Longwood linebacker/defensive back had plenty of reasons to flash his trademark expression. He made a key interception at his own 2 to stop one drive and was part of a defensive unit that staged a dramatic last-minute goal-line stand as the host Lions held off Lindenhurst, 13-7, Friday night, in a Suffolk Division I first-round playoff game.
"Look at him. He's always smiling. Sometimes at the weirdest times," said teammate Kavaughn Wiggins, who scored the winning touchdown with a 60-yard run on a pitchout around left end with 7:29 remaining in the fourth quarter.
"All game, I was running inside and they were chopping me," said Wiggins, who also scored Longwood's first touchdown on a 1-yard plunge and finished with 123 yards on 23 carries. "I needed to use my speed. I took a pitch, made a stutter-step move inside and cut outside. Then I was free. No one was going to catch me."
It was on the next series that Bennett cut in front of Alec Wrieth at the Lions' 2, and made the third interception of Lindenhurst quarterback Steve Skon. Linebacker Darius Greene made the other two, returning one 57 yards to set up Longwood's first touchdown.
But the Bulldogs (5-4) got the ball back on the Lions' 47 with 1:48 left. Even though Skon (15-for-31, 178 yards, one touchdown) did not have a huge game, he is dangerous. He completed a 10-yard pass to his brother, Kenny, and a 28-yard inside screen to John Elliott that put the ball on the Longwood 4 with 36.3 seconds left.
Skon tried a quarterback draw, but 295-pound Omari Palmer stopped that for a 1-yard loss, forcing the Bulldogs to use their last time out. The Lions (7-2) knew three passes to the end zone were coming.
"We tried to get in his face from the outside," Longwood coach Chris Meyer said. "We didn't sack him, but he was off target on those three passes. We made him hurry."
Bennett defended Wrieth on the first, which was wide. "I knew I had to stay in my zone," Bennett said. The next pass was behind Kenny Skon and the last pass of Steve Skon's career sailed over the head of his brother in the left corner of the end zone.
At that moment, Bennett wasn't the only Lion smiling.