A gritty goal-line stand by Farmingdale in the rain and mud Saturday proved that the 100th yard on a football field can be the longest yard.
The Dalers turned back host Massapequa four times and held on for a 10-7 Nassau I victory in a season-opening game for both teams in which all the points were scored in the first half, before the heavy rain began to fall.
"When the game was on the line, we owned up on the goal-line stand," Farmingdale coach Buddy Krumenacker said.
Massapequa took advantage of a blocked quick kick and moved from the Dalers' 44 to the 1. Chris Bacotti's 25-yard burst put the home team at the 15. Paul Dilena dragged tacklers with him on a 9-yard run to the 6 and Bacotti squirted through a small opening to set up the Chiefs with first-and-goal at the 1.
On first down, Dilena (13 carries, 84 yards, TD) rammed the ball inside but the Dalers' interior line didn't budge, stopping Dilena for a 2-yard loss. They weren't surprised. "Who else would you give it to but him?" Krumenacker said.
On second down, a poor snap cost the Chiefs four more yards. On third-and-goal from the 7, Bacotti was stopped for no gain. On fourth down, Brad Baldinger lofted a pass toward Griffin Barnathan on a fade pattern in the right corner of the end zone, but Naquan Warren was there to bat it down.
There was still 1:59 left and a chance for Massapequa to get the ball back with a defensive stand. But Michael Outing carried four straight times up the middle for 24 yards, allowing the Dalers to nail down a season-opening victory in a rematch of last season's county championship game.
"I definitely was thinking, 'Just hold onto the ball,' " said Outing, who carried 19 times for 84 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that matched Dilena's 9-yard scoring run in the first quarter. "I knew I had to keep two hands on the ball."
The ball was slippery all afternoon, even in the first half when there was no rain. Dilena's touchdown was set up when Frank Americo broke through and blocked Zach Kolodny's punt. Outing's score came five plays after Danny McKeon intercepted a long pass and returned it 54 yards to the Massapequa 26.
"I'm the nickel back but in that situation I wound up as the free safety," McKeon said. "I drifted to the trips side and saw the ball all the way. On the return, it was just straight green grass. I was hoping I could get into the end zone."
The game-winning points, Kolodny's 22-yard field goal, came after the Dalers stopped a Massapequa drive into the red zone on Nick Campo's strip sack and fumble recovery.
"Both teams had bad things happen to them," Krumenacker said.
Until Farmingdale made something good happen near the end. "Those are the plays you have to make if you want to advance and hopefully be a champion," Krumenacker said.