The Garden City winning streak is over.
It was stopped in stunning fashion as MacArthur rolled to a 27-7 win at Garden City before a crowd of more than 3,300 on a sun-splashed afternoon in a Nassau Conference II football game.
It was Garden City’s first loss in three-plus years, a span that included three Long Island Class II championships and 42 straight wins. The Trojans share the Long Island record for consecutive wins with William Floyd, which won 42 in a row from 2005-2008.
“Nothing lasts forever, especially a streak that moves from year to year with different personnel,” said Garden City coach Dave Ettinger. “We knew it would end sooner or later – it had to. We’ve set the standard and I’m proud of this group for extending the streak to 42 games and always focusing on the opponent in front of us. We never really talked about the streak.”
Garden City (6-1) was undone by MacArthur quarterback Joe Manfredo, the 5-6, 135 pound senior who transformed from game manager to rock star status. Manfredo had thrown for only 117 yards through six games this season. He matched that total Saturday in completing five of six passes.
“I don’t care if we pass as long as we win,” Manfredo said. “It’s fun watching the O-line clear the way for our halfbacks. And Hugh [Kelleher] is just an incredibly hard runner.”
Kelleher rushed 26 times for 139 yards and punctuated the Generals' 11-play, 55-yard opening drive with a 5-yard scoring run. James Katcher's 45-yard kickoff return gave the Generals excellent field position. Matt Carroll added the kick for the 7-0 lead with 5:52 left in the first quarter. The drive, keyed by two pivotal third-down conversions, consumed 6:01.
“Our offensive line did a great job all game,” said MacArthur coach Bobby Fehrenbach. “And aside from that first Garden City drive, I thought our defense played well.”
Garden City responded on its first possession with a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive. Sophomore halfback Jack Cascadden went over the left side, broke away from one tackler and ran 48 yards for the score. Chase Gardi added the point after to make it 7-7 with 1:56 left in the first quarter.
MacArthur (7-0), keyed by a Kelleher 37-yard run, moved deep into Garden City territory on its next possession. On third-and-11 at the Trojans' 21, Manfredo play-faked into the line going left and tucked the ball under his arm and ran a naked bootleg around the right end untouched for a 21-yard touchdown to forge a 14-7 lead. The deception was uncanny.
It was the first time this season the Garden City defense allowed touchdowns on consecutive possessions.
“Garden City is a great team and I didn’t think they’d fall for it,” Manfredo said. “I was surprised.”
The MacArthur offense was so efficient that Garden City only had the ball twice in the first half.
“This was a statement win,” Kelleher said. “We just beat a great team that hadn’t lost in four years.”
Manfredo extended the lead to 21-7 on a quarterback sneak with 3:53 left in the third quarter.
The MacArthur defense sealed the win early in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Mike Esposito put a crushing blindside blow on quarterback Holden Overbeck and jarred the ball from his grip. And there was Manfredo again. He came up from his free safety position for the scoop and score, racing 43 yards untouched to extinguish any hopes of a comeback.
The MacArthur defense suffocated the Trojans after the first drive of the game. The Generals allowed 35 yards in 25 snaps and three first downs. They also forced two turnovers.
“They had all the energy and came in and beat us,” said Garden City linebacker Christian Sullivan. “We were a part of something special. Now we have to start a new streak.”