It’s not just about the offense any more at Oceanside.
The Sailors, though much younger than a year ago, have made a strong showing in defense of their Nassau I title with a high-scoring airborne offense. Stunning freshman quarterback Charlie McKee has been firing to receivers Jake Lazzaro and Nick Platia for score after score.
On Friday night however, Oceanside showed there is much more to it as the Sailors pulled out a dramatic 19-12 home victory over Farmingdale with the unsung taking center stage.
Running back Alijah James rushed for a pair of touchdowns, including the go-ahead score, and Joseph Ruggeri broke into the Dalers’ backfield to make a huge stop on a critical late fourth-and-1 as the Sailors defense sealed the victory.
“Our defense doesn’t get much credit, but they can be ‘lights out,’ ” Oceanside coach Rob Blount said. “Many of the guys who don’t get a lot of the attention came up big in this.”
Oceanside (5-1) is now alone in second place behind front-running Freeport in Nassau I and Farmingdale (4-2) is right behind. “We still have a young team but it’s in a great spot,” Blount said. “We’re at the point we hoped we’d be and maybe have even exceeded that.”
Now don’t get the impression that the Sailors’ aerial attack had an off night. McKee was 22-for-36 passing for 274 yards, including a 76-yard touchdown pass to Platia (114 receiving yards), and Lazzaro had 10 receptions for 105 yards. But James bounced to the outside and ran 14 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown that tied the score at 12 in the third quarter.
His 2-yard TD run with 7:26 to play put Oceanside in front for good.
“I think we have a lot of ways we can beat a team,” James said. “We’re really a team with different ways to score and lots of ways to stop you.”
Farmingdale’s Kevin Wilson rushed for 91 yards on 25 carries and a 28-yard touchdown and Lorenzo Ramos capped a 90-yard drive with a 4-yard scoring run with 5:24 before the intermission for a 12-6 lead. The Dalers looked like they might be going back into the red zone on the possession after relinquishing the lead, but Oceanside got the last word.
On a third -and-10, Nick Lundin hit Tyler DiBiasi for a 9-yard gain to the Oceanside 29. Farmingdale on fourth-and-1 went to a recipe that had worked a lot — Wilson running behind 295-pound Tyler Nemecek on the left side — but the Sailors were looking for it. Ruggeri hit him first well behind the line of scrimmage before Connor Calkin and Edward Mannone piled on for a 5-yard loss with 4:15 left.
“We knew we had to make the play right there,” Ruggeri said. “I don’t get to score but my touchdowns are tackles in the backfield.”
Farmingdale did get one more possession with 2:23 to play. They were able to get to the Sailors’ 35, but Lundin had a ball go off a receiver’s hands on third down and got chased into a hurried and low throw by Culkin on fourth down.
“Our offense does a lot,” Ruggeri said, “but people saw tonight how good our defense can be, too.”