Take the old-school flea-flicker, add a touch of the new-wave spread and you’ve got the makings of a dramatic plot twist under the Friday night lights of Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
That’s the play that Long Island offensive coordinator Rob Blount of Oceanside called in the final minute of the 23rd Empire Challenge. “We just call it ‘throwback,’ ” Blount said.
Long Island’s offense — mostly revolving around Dylan Laube of Westhampton, who ran for three touchdowns out of the Wildcat formation, accumulated 151 all-purpose yards and was voted most outstanding player of the game — had bogged down late in the fourth quarter with the score tied. After two first downs rushing and a big 21-yard completion from Lindenhurst’s Nick Anzalone to Laube that put the ball at the NYC 30, Laube lost 4 yards and Anzalone threw two incomplete passes.
On fourth-and-14, it was time for a little deception before the reception. Blount called a play that was familiar to the three primary participants, with mixed memories. “We used it in the regular season and we used it in the playoffs,” Blount said. “Then we ran it a few times in practice.”
Oceanside players started the action, with receiver Derek Cruz going in motion and taking a handoff from quarterback Tommy Heuer in the familiar shotgun-spread alignment. Cruz faked continuing the run and tossed the ball back to Heuer, who waited for Massapequa wide receiver Owen Glascoe to break free.
Heuer hit Glascoe in the end zone for a 34-yard touchdown pass and Farmingdale’s Briant DeFelice added his fourth extra-point kick for a 28-21 lead with 41 seconds left. That was the winning point in a 28-27 thriller.
“I was in the slot and came in motion like a jet sweep,” said Cruz, who caught four passes for 36 yards. “I faked the run and threw it back to Tommy. We’ve done it plenty of times before. It worked against Massapequa.”
That was a gentle, smiling dig at Glascoe, standing next to Cruz and Heuer on the Hofstra turf after the game. Oceanside successfully pulled off the throwback for a key touchdown in a 45-21 opening-day victory over the Chiefs on Sept. 7.
Glascoe was quick to laugh and embrace his new “teammates.”
“That’s why it felt so great, because they did it against us,” he said of his only reception Friday night.
Glascoe dropped the ball on the same play in practice a couple of times, according to Blount, but like all good receivers, he has a short memory.
“You can’t think about that,” he said of those agonizing seconds looking up into the lights waiting for the pass to come down. “When they went after Tommy, I knew the play worked and I started sprinting to get open.”
He caught the pass cleanly from Heuer, who threw 38 touchdown passes last fall and won the Thorp Award. “I had to move to the outside to avoid the rush,” Heuer said. “I saw Owen ahead of everyone else. I just threw it.”
His ninth completion in 19 attempts was right on target and produced the 34 yards necessary for a victory that gave Long Island a 13-8 lead in the series and ended New York City’s winning streak at two games.
The City nearly made it three in a row, driving for a touchdown on a shocking Hail Mary pass of 30 yards on the game’s final play. NYC elected to go for the win rather than kick the PAT and force overtime, but Sayville’s James Lyons batted away the two-point conversion pass.
“What a way to win a game,” Long Island coach Bill Parry of Westhampton told his players.
And what a way to end a career. Parry, who announced his retirement last fall after the school’s first Long Island championship, had coached his last football game — a Friday night delight.