Floyd’s Tommy Verga still managed to have a smile on his face even after the Colonials dropped a 42-14 decision to Freeport in the Long Island Class I championship game at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium on Friday.
“They were a great team, with great coaches and great players,” Verga said. “That’s the best team we’ve played. They were relentless until the final whistle.”
But don’t let the final score deceive you. Floyd gave Freeport everything it could handle. Unfortunately for the Colonials, they were able to maintain that effort for only 24 minutes, or one half. Freeport, which trailed 14-13 at halftime, exploded for 29 second-half points.
The Red Devils’ defense came up big on the second play of the second half. Makhai Jinks forced a key fumble that he returned 26 yards to the Floyd 19. Three plays later, Jinks -- who had five touchdowns -- scored on a 5-yard run. A two-point conversion run by Dakarai Stevenson gave Freeport (12-0) a 21-14 lead it would not relinquish.
“That was huge,” Floyd coach Paul Longo said of the key fumble. “We would have had a third-and-1 there, and instead, they have the ball going the other way.”
Floyd (11-1) later threw two interceptions and had a 10-yard punt that gave the Red Devils a short field to attack. Freeport converted the three miscues into 14 points, and the rout was on. After producing eight first downs in the first half, the Colonials registered only three the rest of the game.
The first half was a different story for Floyd. Trailing 13-6 with 11:30 left in the second quarter, the Colonials took over at their 22 and methodically marched to the Freeport 2, eating up nearly the entire quarter. On the 25th play of the drive, Verga took a bootleg to the right untouched to the end zone to cap a drive that melted 11:20 off the clock.
"That was our game plan right there," Longo said.
The Colonials didn’t attempt the conventional point-after kick, although they lined up for the attempt. Instead, Floyd ran a fake and Devin Brown found Andrew Minelli for the two-point conversion and a 14-13 lead with 10 seconds left in the half.
Floyd, which was 5-for-5 on fourth-down conversions in the first half, went 4-for-4 on the critical drive. Verga ended the game as Floyd’s top rusher with 20 carries for 67 yards and a touchdown. He was 4-for-12 passing for 35 yards with two interceptions.
“No matter what, these are my brothers,” said Verga, who will play baseball for Fairleigh Dickinson University. “I wouldn’t change anything about this season . . . Unfortunately, we didn’t get it done here.”