It’s a little hard to exactly put a finger on Tyshawn Lopez. There are the times when the Floyd senior running back seems like a punisher, running between the tackles and bruising all who try to halt him. And then there are the times he seems like a burner, getting around the outside edge to break off a run or cutting back to leave would-be tacklers in his dust.
The Longwood defense had its share of trouble putting fingers on Lopez on Saturday as he ran both inside and out, finishing with 172 yards and four touchdowns in the host Colonials’ 42-14 Suffolk Division I victory. Lopez had touchdown runs of 7, 4, 8 and 30 yards.
"He's a really, really good player – he’s been a good player for us for a couple of years,” Floyd coach Paul Longo said. “He's got tremendous ability at running back. He's a power runner, but yet he's elusive. And he also can break stuff for long runs.”
“Last year we had [Newsday All-Long Island] Nick Silva and he cast a really long shadow and I played in that,” Lopez said. “Now the shadow is gone and the lights are shining on me and I am going to keep giving it my all.
“I realized in the offseason that this year would be my last chance, my final year of football. I got much more serious about it,” he added. “Now I feel like I can run all day.”
Lopez didn’t need to run all day, though. Running back Jezayd Hall took a dozen carries and went for 95 yards. Quarterback Tommy Verga ran the ball nine times for 30 yards and a 1-yard touchdown, and was 4-for-7 passing for 66 yards, an 18-yard touchdown to Devin Brown and one interception. Wayne Bristel also had an interception for Floyd (6-0).
Quarterback Noah Rattmer was 7-for-15 passing for 123 yards, an 18-yard touchdown to Kaisean Cobb and one interception and Elijah Stokley made an interception for Longwood (4-2). Anele Nwanyanwu rushed 10 times for 56 yards and a 1-yard touchdown and had a 50-yard reception for the Lions.
The reason the Colonials were able to roll up so much yardage was their skilled blocking. Floyd lost three regulars on the line to injuries and others have filled in well. Santiago Strick, Zachary Hoerter, Isaiah Sadler, Ryan Amato and Corie Crews “were opening holes big enough to drive a truck through,” Hall said. And tight end Andrew Minelli and fullback Eddie Longo also threw some key blocks.
“We lost talented people, but there’s a next-man-up attitude on this team,” Verga said. “Today they were awesome – it was like we were getting seven and eight yards a pop.”
Lopez’s 7-yard score capped the game’s opening drive, and after Bristel’s interception gave Floyd the ball back it was intercepted by Stokley on a pass into the end zone. The Lions tied it on Cobb’s touchdown reception on the first play of the second quarter. But Floyd scored two more TDs before halftime – on Lopez’ 4-yard rush and Brown’s 18-yard reception – for a 21-7 lead.
When Longwood had to punt the opening possession after halftime, Lopez returned it 50 yards to the Lions’ 32. Four plays later, Verga scored on a sneak and the Colonials were off to the races.
Just two weeks ago Floyd escaped with a victory against Sachem East on a Verga touchdown pass with five seconds left to play. That victory has rekindled the fire in the defending Suffolk County champion.
“That was our eye-opener,” Verga said. “It made us realize that we’ve really got to come to play every time and that ‘Floyd’ on our uniform doesn’t mean we’re just going to roll over teams. We have to take care of business. We did today.”