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Jason Seiter’s four picks, one TD run, one TD pass spark Bethpage

Bethpage quarterback Jason Seiter celebrates with his teammates

Bethpage quarterback Jason Seiter celebrates with his teammates after their win over Plainedge in a Nassau III quarterfinal on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. Credit: Richard T. Slattery

You can call him “Apple” Seiter ’cause he sure knows how to pick ’em.

Bethpage safety Jason Seiter made four interceptions — a Nassau first, according to Newsday records — one of them setting up his own rushing touchdown, as the No. 5 Golden Eagles knocked off host No. 4 Plainedge, 28-12, Saturday before a crowd of more than 2,100.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a guy get four interceptions in a game,” veteran Bethpage coach Erwin Dill said. “He’s one of the best players I’ve ever coached. It was a tremendous performance. I can’t say enough about him.”

Seiter, who is also the team’s starting quarterback, made his most important pick of the afternoon early in the fourth quarter after Plainedge had forced a punt and taken possession at its own 20 trailing 14-12. Seiter read the route and stepped in front of the receiver for his second takeaway. He broke to the outside and returned it 28 yards to the 12. A late-hit penalty moved the ball to the 6 and three plays later, Seiter lunged over the goal line from the 3 and a 21-12 lead following the third of Joe Poggio’s four extra-point kicks.

“I saw the route and saw the ball in the air,” said Seiter, who made his and the team’s first interception of the season in Week 7, also against Plainedge. “I just made a play.”

He made two more such defensive plays in the fourth quarter. With Plainedge (6-3) driving into Bethpage territory, Seiter picked off Mike Ciuffo’s pass and returned it 5 yards to the Bethpage 38. That launched a nine-play, 62-yard drive that was kept alive when Seiter rushed for 18 of his 53 yards on fourth-and-4. Jack Raia’s 18-yard TD run capped the drive and iced the game.

Seiter made his fourth INT on Plainedge’s final drive before taking a knee to end the game. Bethpage, which had beaten Plainedge 28-21 in the regular season, improved to 6-3 and will face No. 1 Lawrence on Friday at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium. Seiter added 112 yards passing, including a 58-yard TD pass on a quick slant to Chris Greco that opened scoring.

“Most of the time I was the free safety and just read the quarterback’s eyes,” Seiter said. “It feels good, especially to beat our town rival. But this game wasn’t just about me. Our offensive line gave us good blocking and our defense came up big.”

One of those big defensive plays was by Seiter’s partner in the secondary, T.J. Kress, who made a leaping interception at the Golden Eagles’ 32 in the third quarter, just when it appeared the Red Devils were going to take advantage of their own defensive stand and cut into the deficit.

In addition to his running, passing and picking, Seiter was also a sure tackler. He made a shoestring takedown of Dion Kuinlan in the open field that saved a sure touchdown. Kuinlan returned the favor in the fourth quarter, making a touchdown-saving tackle on Seiter after a 25-yard run.

“Jason is unassuming but he covers up for a lot of mistakes for us on offense and defense,” Dill said. “He’s smart and even though he’s not the fastest guy we’ve ever had, he’s very elusive. He’s hard to tackle and he’s always moving forward.”

Especially on defense, where Seiter seems to treat every pass like a ripe apple ready to be picked.

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