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Brad Baldinger, Sal Americo lead Massapequa in victory over Freeport

Massapequa quarterback Brad Baldinger, left, hands off to

Massapequa quarterback Brad Baldinger, left, hands off to Chris Bacotti during a Nassau I football game against host Freeport on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. Credit: James Escher

And now for some first-half highlights . . . take a deep breath.

Massapequa amassed 361 yards from scrimmage and 35 points in the first 24 minutes of its game against Freeport Friday night. The Chiefs couldn't keep up that pace, of course, but they'd already done enough to spark a 45-20 victory over the host Red Devils in Nassau I.

"We just tried to stick to our game plan," Massapequa quarterback Brad Baldinger said.

That must have included plenty of running plays behind a dominant offensive line.

The Chiefs (2-1) totaled 263 yards on the ground in the first half in building a 38-20 lead. Baldinger, the son of former NFL defensive lineman Gary Baldinger of Massapequa, ran for two touchdowns and threw for two more in that first half.

He also rolled his ankle midway through the second quarter but returned to direct the Chiefs on their final touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter.

Sal Americo led the way with 129 yards on nine carries, 115 of them in the first half, including a dazzling 74-yard scoring run.

Chris Bacotti was a workhorse with 22 carries for 88 yards and a touchdown.

Baldinger ran for 53 yards on only five carries, including touchdown runs of 15 and 10 yards after slick ball fakes. He also completed 9 of 14 passes for 119 yards and touchdown strikes of 21 yards to Casey Kimmel and 9 yards to Phil Tesoriero.

"Every quarterback would like to have the weapons that I have," Baldinger said.

Those weapons were firing in the first half. Americo's 74-yard dash included a nice cut to the outside and some tackle-breaking moves. "It was a dart right and the guards pulled and opened a big hole,'' he said. "I knew it was open."

Freeport (2-1) turned in some fireworks of its own.

Rashad Tucker, who threw for 106 yards and rushed for 57, connected with Jaelin Hood for 46 yards to set up a 9-yard touchdown run by Jared Wray in the first quarter. Wray rushed for 123 yards on 20 carries.

Outside linebacker Tyree Powell-Townsend returned an interception 25 yards early in a second quarter that produced one big play after another.

The Chiefs had two fumble recoveries, with one stopping a Freeport drive and the other setting up a touchdown run by Baldinger.

"It all starts with our offensive line," Americo said. "We run right over them."

The quintet of center Tommy Kempton, guards Dominick Corrao and Matt St. Jeanos and tackles Kyle Berna and James Magaldi constantly opened holes in the Freeport defense. That gave Baldinger, Americo and Bacotti plenty of running room.

"I've been saying all year that the offensive line is the strength of our team," Baldinger said. "We don't shy away from what's working behind them."

Bacotti acknowledged that the array of weapons in Massapequa's arsenal "takes the pressure off each of us."

The Chiefs had additional motivation this week after losing to Syosset last Saturday on a field goal on the game's final play.

"We had a little chip on our shoulder from that," Bacotti said.

They cashed in those chips, big time.

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