Syosset running back Brandon Nieves tries to break free from...

Syosset running back Brandon Nieves tries to break free from East Meadow defender Chika Ewulu. (Sept. 12, 2013) Credit: Jack McCoy

Syosset football coach Paul Rorke had his doubts despite being ahead by double-digits at halftime.

"East Meadow is one heck of a team," Rorke said. "Our players played great, but there was never really a point where I could say I was comfortable."

Rorke finally exhaled after his team won, 15-13, Thursday night in the Nassau I opener for both teams at East Meadow. Travis Hammer's 24-yard field goal with about seven minutes left in the fourth quarter gave Syosset the lead.

Syosset got going early in the first quarter after Nicholas Hatzipetrakos blocked a punt and E.J. Aronson recovered the ball at the 5. Brandon Nieves, who had 66 yards on 16 carries, punched it in from the 5 three plays later.

Later in the first quarter, Syosset quarterback Hunter Gross ended a nine-play, 70-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run to put the Braves up 12-0. The drive was extended by Michael Elardo, who caught a 10-yard pass from Gross to convert a fourth down.

Utilizing a solid running attack, the Jets scored on their first two possessions of the second half to go ahead 13-12.

On the ensuing possession, Syosset put together a "dink-and-dunk kind of drive," Rorke said, that lasted 11 plays and 34 yards. It was just enough for Hammer to give the Braves the lead. Syosset defenders E.J. Aronson, Anthony Carchietta and Bradley Balogh helped prevent East Meadow from moving the ball consistently late in the fourth.

"It's a great way to start the season," Rorke said, "because we traded the ball back and forth so much in the fourth that it really could have gone either way."

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