The Lawrence defense made homecoming that much bright er on Saturday with crucial fourth down stops in the second half that gave the Golden Tornadoes a 35-31 victory over Bethpage.
With 11 minutes left, Christian Fredericks took the snap from shotgun, faked a hand off to a back going right, went left, juked a Bethpage defender, and ran down the Lawrence sideline 69 yards for the winning touchdown.
Bethpage got on the board first, capping a 54-yard workman- like drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Jack Raia, putting the Golden Eagles ahead 7-0 after the first quarter.
Although the Lawrence defense tightened up in the second half, the Bethpage option attack was effective against the home team for much of the first half.
With Lawrence ahead 14-7 in the second quarter, Bethpage responded. After a third-and-1 conversion on a fullback dive up the middle, the Golden Eagles ran the same play on first and 10, and this time Ryan Hill took the running play 55-yards up the middle to tie the game at 14 with 3:39 left in the second quarter.
“They got us off assignment” said Lawrence head coach Joe Martillotti. “That’s what the option game is, assignment football.”
After trading scores, it was 21-21 at the midway point.
Raia scored his second touchdown of the game on the first possession of the second half, giving Bethpage a 28-21 lead.
The homecoming crowd was restless in the stands, but the defense remained composed on the field.
Aided by stellar plays from linebackers Suquan Stayes and Christian Rodas, Bethpage stalled in the red zone, settling for a 27-yard field goal for a 31-21 lead with five minutes left in the third quarter. Despite the score, the momentum seemed to move back to the home team.
The ensuing kickoff bounced three times before Chris Collier picked it up. He pointed out a defender for his teammate to block, found a hole and took off to the end zone. The Lawrence faithful went from nail-biting to fist-pumping.
After a failed onside kick attempt by Lawrence, Bethpage got the ball back with great field position, but things had changed.
“The last few possessions we settled down and stayed on assignment,” said coach Martillotti.
Even after a first down got Bethpage inside the 5, the Lawrence defense stood strong. Bethpage ran four plays inside the five-yard line and came up with nothing.
“We practice goal line every week to make sure we’re prepared for certain situations like that,” said linebacker Christian Rodas. “It paid off.”