South Side QB #4 Owen West rushes for TD. South...

South Side QB #4 Owen West rushes for TD. South Side defeats Elmont 27-21 in Nassau High School Conference II football quarterfinal playoff game between Elmont and South Side. Saturday November 5, 2022 Credit: Howard Simmons

South Side had turned over a fourth-quarter lead and lost to Elmont the previous Saturday in the regular-season finale, and now the Cyclones were trying to prevent it from happening again against Elmont. 

This time, it was the Nassau II quarterfinals. This time, a trip to Hofstra for the semis was in the pot instead of just a home playoff game.  

Elmont had just cut South Side’s advantage to six points Saturday after a touchdown and the PAT. Just 3:48 remained. 

“I was worried, but I knew our guys got it,” South Side junior quarterback Owen West said. “…  Everyone knew that we were going to win.” 

They received the ensuing kickoff and never let the Spartans get the ball back, running out the clock. West ran for 61 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 60 and one TD, and the fifth-seeded Cyclones won at fourth-seeded Elmont, 27-21. 

They’re going to Hofstra. 

“Last week hurt so bad,” West said. “Every single day in practice, our coach [Phil Onesto] said, ‘We want to go to Hofstra.’ … So it just meant the world to everyone.” 

Of course, the next one Friday is a tough one. Garden City is the six-time defending champ, a 9-0 team, including a 41-21 win over South Side (5-4) in Week 2.  

“We’ve been waiting since the beginning of the season to see them again,” said senior Danyae Northington, who ran for 83 yards and a TD on 16 carries in this victory. “So it’s our time. We have to shine.” 

This was a 14-14 game at halftime. The Spartans’ first drive in the third stalled. Christian Agosto blocked the punt and Jack Schaefer recovered for the Cyclones at the Elmont 41. West ran for 23, and two plays later, he fired down the middle to Michael Aiello for a 17-yard score and the lead. 

In the fourth, a bad punt snap led to South Side taking over at the Elmont 4. West pushed his way in for the final few inches to make it 27-14. 

But the Spartans (5-4), who committed more than 100 yards in penalties, weren’t giving up. Kimani Lewis found Justus Nathaniel for a 29-yard score. Then they kicked the ball deep. 

“We needed a stop,” Elmont coach Jay Hegi said. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in our kids.” 

It didn’t come, though. The Spartans’ four-game winning streak and season had come to a conclusion. 

“It’s a tough ending,” Hegi said, “but there’s a lot of positives to be taken out.”  

Back in the first half, Northington ran for 36-yard score. But Isaiah Davis countered with a 16-yard scoring run. West then ran for a 26-yard TD. But Lewis returned the ensuing kickoff for an 81-yard touchdown, and it was tied after the PAT.  

This time, South Side finished. 

“For the past two years, we’ve had a very young team,” Onesto said. “… We were just trying to teach them to finish out and win games. They picked a great time to finally put it together.”

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