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Ciuffo-Bornkamp connection lifts Plainedge in wild shootout

The Plainedge football team defeated Lawrence, 38-34, at Lawrence High School on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Credit: Newsday / Kenny DeJohn)

With airplanes overhead descending into nearby John F. Kennedy International Airport, it was Brian Bornkamp who ensured that the Plainedge football team continued its soaring start.

Bornkamp, lined up wide on the left side, ran a corner route and broke away hard from his defender, falling to the turf in the end zone to receive the pass from Mike Ciuffo with 29.2 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.

The touchdown catch, his fourth of the game, capped a six-play, 80-yard drive in just 35.8 seconds and gave the Red Devils the lead for good in their 38-34 win over host Lawrence in Nassau III Saturday. Plainedge improved to 3-0.

“I really can’t put words into it,” Bornkamp said of his team’s emotional comeback. “It’s just a matter of hustle and heart.”

The Golden Tornadoes took a 34-31 lead with 1:12 remaining after Christian Fredericks went over the top of the defense to Jordan Alexander for a 36-yard touchdown. Alexander caught four passes for 123 yards and three touchdowns.

Plainedge started its go-ahead drive on its own 20-yard line after the ensuing kickoff. The Red Devils immediately began chipping away with gains of 6 and 3 yards. A defensive pass interference gave Plainedge a fresh set of downs on its own 44-yard line with 47.3 seconds left.

A 9-yard completion to Joe Yarusso and a crucial 36-yard reception by Michael Harding set up Bornkamp’s clutch catch.

“He’s one of the many weapons on our team,” said Ciuffo, who completed 18 of 27 passes for 215 yards and four touchdowns, all to Bornkamp. “I can’t say it enough, we have great men all over the field. This game he just happened to shine, we had a connection. But he’s not the only one.”

Harding and Yarusso were reliable options, and running back Dion Kuinlan (25 carries, 122 yards) kept the chains moving. His 10-yard touchdown run with 2:10 remaining gave Plainedge a 31-27 lead.

Kuinlan and Ciuffo found protection behind a sturdy offensive line consisting of John Guglielmi, Matt Aloni, Dylan Kocoris, Steve Reisert and Tom Caltabiano.

“I have to give it to everyone else on my team — the line for a hell of a battle, my quarterback for putting the ball where it needed to be,” said Bornkamp, who caught five passes for 78 yards. “It wasn’t an individual team, it was a team thing.”

Fredericks was excellent for Lawrence (2-1), completing 17 of 28 passes for 333 yards and five touchdowns. He tossed touchdowns of 49 and 69 yards on consecutive passes to help Lawrence take a 27-24 lead with 7:33 left.

Plainedge had the firepower to answer.

“Last year, we had a bit of a rough fall,” Bornkamp said. “This year, it was all about revenge. We’re here to say that we’re back.”

With an array of weapons, the Plainedge offense could continue to soar.

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