Garden City's Ed Blatz has become accustomed to the challenge of covering Brandon Watson on the lacrosse field -- with Blatz, a defender, making it his duty to try and stop the Wantagh attack every time the Warriors came to town.
When the two met on the gridiron Saturday, Watson again proved a substantial scoring threat and Blatz again was in charge of keeping him in check. This time, though, Blatz wasn't merely contained to defense. And he made it count.
The two running backs, also both cornerbacks, wrote the latest chapter of their cross-sport duel, with Blatz coming out on top thanks to a two touchdown performance in Garden City's 34-14 win in Nassau II. Blatz, who scored the go-ahead TD in the third, added a momentum-shifting interception earlier in the quarter -- a play where he picked off a Roddy Roche pass intended for (who else?) Watson.
"They had beat me a couple of times before that but that time I was ready," said the 6-5 Blatz. "I stayed on my guy and made a break for it."
Watson's pass deflection in the ensuing possession helped force the Trojans to go three-and-out, but Garden City (7-0) smothered Wantagh on its next drive. Seven plays later, Brett Stewart hit Blatz over the middle for the 16-yard score and the 21-14 lead.
"They had a single safety and we tried to exploit that," said Stewart, who finished 12-for-22 with 126 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 83 yards on 13 carries. "We made some adjustments at halftime to take advantage."
Watson made his presence known early in the game, returning the opening kickoff for a 73-yard touchdown. The Trojans, though, scored the next two -- an 8-yard TD by Tim McDonagh in their opening possession and Stewart's 7-yard pass to Blatz with 11:50 left in the second quarter.
Wantagh (5-2) tied the score eight minutes later on Roche's TD pass to Will Fitzpatrick. After nearly getting sacked, Roche rolled right and went up the sideline to find three defenders waiting before lobbing a pass to his wide open receiver in the end zone.
Roche (116 yards passing), "is quick and he sees you coming," said defensive end Danny Miller. "He's got a quick move to the outside. You have to take the right angle on him."
Miller managed just that in Wantagh's first possession in the fourth. After a touchdown toss to Justin Guterding had given the Trojans a 14-point lead, Roche attempted to find Watson on third down, but was pressured by Miller for the incompletion. Miller then blocked the punt and recovered it at the Wantagh 27, setting up a final McDonagh score and putting the game out of reach.
Guterding finished with four catches for 44 yards, Blatz had five for 52 and Watson had 13 carries for 69 yards, and added two catches for 25.
"It was a great battle," Blatz said. "We guarded each other both ways and we were both trying to come out on top."
Saturday, the edge went to Blatz. Until the next round, that is.