The pocket was a comfort zone all night for Lindenhurst quarterback Ryan Hofmann.
Given time to set up and survey the field, Hofmann completed 17 of 28 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns as the Bulldogs dealt host Sachem East its first loss of the season, 34-26, Friday night in Suffolk I. Lindenhurst improved to 5-2, while the Flaming Arrows fell to 6-1.
Despite Hofmann's accomplishments, which included a 76-yard TD pass to Joe Palmeri with 5:27 left for the winning points, the outcome was in doubt right to the final minute.
Sachem East, taking advantage of a celebration penalty on Lindenhurst's final touchdown, got possession at midfield and drove all the way to the Lindenhurst 1. With 47 seconds left, Javon Abraham faked a handoff to Josh Hanna and circled right end for an apparent tying touchdown. But the play was nullified by a block in the back.
On fourth-and-12, Abraham's desperation pass was intercepted by Gino Bonagura, who returned it 58 yards to seal the win.
Hanna was the driving force in the second half for Sachem East, gaining 131 of his 144 yards. It was Ryan Leone who did the work in the first half, with 68 of his 114 yards.
The Flaming Arrows moved to within 21-20 on Hanna's 2-yard run with 12 seconds left in the third quarter. But Lindenhurst responded with a 9-play, 68-yard drive that took only 2:29 and was completed with Bonagura's 1-yard run and Adrian Leddy's kick for a 28-20 lead.
Then East answered with a 72-yard drive that featured a 28-yard run by Hanna and ended with Leone's 10-yard scoring run. But Abraham's try for the tie on a bootleg was stopped short.
It took only three plays for the Bulldogs to re-establish an eight-point lead as Hofmann, with time aplenty, found Palmeri deep down the middle and behind the secondary for a 76-yard scoring play. Palmeri had made diving catches for gains of 20 and 29 yards earlier in the game, but was able to stay on his feet for his grand finale.
Still, Sachem East made it uncomfortable close with its near-scoring drive to the 1. But, at the end, Abraham didn't find the pocket as comfortable as Hofmann did and a possible undefeated season came to an end.