When Joe Capobianco took the snap and dropped back to pass, time not only was running out on Lawrence in Saturday's Nassau III championship game, it was slipping away on his spectacular career. One more incomplete pass and the senior's three-year varsity run would be complete.
But Capobianco avoided an outside rush and threw a strike to Sean Moran on a crossing route for the biggest 43 yards of the Golden Tornadoes' season. The clock stopped with 1:16 left -- and still was running on Capobianco's career.
After that hookup, Lawrence moved the ball to the Plainedge 10. That allowed senior Dan Reiskin to boot a 27-yard field goal on the game's final play -- the first field-goal attempt of his career -- and give No. 2 Lawrence a dramatic 28-27 victory over No. 1 Plainedge.
"I watched the Farmingdale game and I never thought this would be the same thing," Capobianco said of the incredible doubleheader Saturday at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium. The Dalers beat Massapequa, 29-26, also on a game-ending field goal.
Lawrence (10-1) will play in the Long Island Class III championship game for a third straight season when it faces Huntington at noon on Saturday at Stony Brook's LaValle Stadium.
Plainedge, which beat Lawrence, 36-20, in Week 4, finished 9-2.
"I'll be putting this one in my personal highlights book," Moran said. "That play was open all game, and all I was thinking was I've got to catch the ball. We're the defending champs. I knew we were going to march down the field."
Moran (six catches, 76 yards) is an often-overlooked part of Lawrence's prolific offense, which not only features Capobianco (15-for-27 for 223 yards and two interceptions), but is a showcase for the talents of Jordan Fredericks.
Fredericks, a junior, ran for 233 yards and three touchdowns, including a 61-yard dazzler in the third period that got the Golden Tornadoes to within 14-12. His presence cleared the way for Moran to get open on the key play.
"It was a crossing route, a pick play, and we knew they'd jump Jordan," Lawrence coach Joe Martillotti said.
So Moran found himself with inside position on his seam route, which he brought down at the Plainedge 32. Capobianco then hit Moran for 5 yards, Marquan Williams for 8 yards and Moran again for 8 yards. After Fredericks' 1-yard run to the 10 and an incomplete pass to Fredericks, Reiskin stepped onto the field with four seconds showing on the scoreboard clock.
"I looked the kid in the eye and asked him, 'Can you do it?' " Martillotti said. "He looked me in the eye, said yes and just jogged onto the field."
The kick left broken-hearted Plainedge players slumped all over the field. They had wrested the lead back from the Golden Tornadoes earlier in the quarter on a five-play, 70-yard drive that featured a 34-yard run by quarterback Nick Frenger and a TD pass of 26 yards to Kevin Walker.
Frenger ended his own outstanding career with 115 yards rushing and another 71 passing. Davien Kuinlan (165 yards, two TDs) and Gianfranco Soriente (10 carries, 90 yards, one TD) led a dynamic ground game that churned out 375 of the Red Devils' 446 yards. Lawrence was more balanced at 256 rushing and 223 passing.
They needed every one of those passing yards on the final drive. "I was confident we could do it," said Capobianco, who was sacked three times in the first half and got banged around by the Plainedge defense. "I've got a headache and I'll be sore [Sunday], but this is a beautiful thing."