It was a play right out of the schoolyards or backyards, the kind of play you might draw up in the dirt or demonstrate on the palm of your hand in the huddle. Or execute with a joystick on a computer game.
“I guess you could call it a reverse-reverse-pass,” Elmont inventor/coach Jay Hegi said with a laugh. “Believe it or not, we’ve run it in practice. We just don’t have a name for it.”
Technically, it was a triple-reverse with a pass. Artistically, it was perfect. Specifically, it was decisive, a two-point conversion that allowed the host Spartans to hold off Mepham, 35-33, Saturday in a key Nassau II football game.
Joshua Milfort St. Cyr, who scored four touchdowns, scored on a 50-yard screen pass from Aaron Ruthman, who threw for three touchdowns. The score gave Elmont a 33-27 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Given that both offenses were prolific and efficient — no turnovers — and despite the windy, chilly conditions, Hegi took a gamble. He elected to go for two rather than try to kick an extra point that would’ve made it a seven-point game.
“I play to win,” Hegi said after Elmont improved to 5-2. “I just had confidence in that play. It came down to execution — handoff to pitch to pitch.”
Ruthman (19-for-26 passing, 290 yards) took the shotgun snap, handed off to Milfort St. Cyr (142 yards, two rushing TDs on 14 carries; five catches, 124 yards, two TD catches), who started running to the right. Milfort St. Cyr tossed it to wide receiver Lucas Mathieu, who was circling back to the left. Mathieu then flipped it back to Ruthman, who rolled right. The play fooled the Pirates’ defense and Ruthman likely could’ve run to the end zone. But he elected for the sure thing — a short toss to wide-open Milfort St. Cyr, who wound up scoring 26 points and showed power on his runs and quickness on his receptions, all them coming on screen passes, always Hegi’s favorite answer to an aggressive pass rush.
“For a sophomore, he’s a beast,” Ruthman said of St. Cyr. “We’ve gone for two points before. We lost to MacArthur last week, 20-19, when we didn’t get the two-point conversion [with two minutes left]. I didn’t want that to happen again. I made sure it worked. We had never tried a triple reverse, but this one definitely sealed the game.”
But not without some stress. With time running out, Mepham (4-3) subsequently drove 78 yards in eight plays, with dynamic two-way back Mike Valentino (143 yards rushing, two TDs, two sacks) finishing the drive by rushing for a score from the 2-yard line. Because of the Spartans’ successful trickery earlier, Mepham was forced to go for two to tie. But Mike Proios (16-for-22, 184 yards, three TDs), under pressure from O’Neil Pryce, could not make the connection in the end zone.
Ruthman, who earlier completed a shovel pass to Milfort St. Cyr for a 26-yard touchdown and a neat 5-yard fade to Chester Anderson for a second-quarter touchdown that produced a 21-14 halftime lead, and myriad other passes with and against a howling wind, saved his slickest pass for after the game.
At midfield, friends and teammates unfurled a long banner with the words, “BRIANNA WILL YOU TAKE THIS PASS TO GO TO THE PROM WITH ME.”
Brianna Harris did not ruin the story line with a reverse of her own. She said yes.