Freeport's #14 Maurice Irby runs for additional yardage during second...

Freeport's #14 Maurice Irby runs for additional yardage during second quarter action in Freeport. (Oct. 22, 2011) Credit: Kevin P Coughlin

It's not a stretch to say that 5-3 Maurice Irby made the biggest play of yesterday's Freeport-East Meadow game. It was, of course, a stretch play.

Irby took a handoff deep in the backfield, deep in Red Devils' territory and started his sweep around right end. Then he went into his pinball routine -- bouncing off tacklers, remaining on his feet, and getting free down the right sideline, accompanied by a slew of blockers. Wide receiver Jere Brown's block cleared out the last obstacle,

Irby's 83-yard touchdown run, his third score of the first half, helped Freeport outslug East Meadow, 44-29, yesterday before an SRO crowd at Freeport High School in a game matching unbeaten Nassau I teams with high-powered offenses.

"It was perfectly blocked," said Irby, whose long run gave Freeport a 29-7 halftime lead and who gained 178 of his 229 yards rushing in the first half. "Then I got downfield and there was my whole team, my whole family to carry me into the end zone."

The end zone was a busy place all day. Freeport quarterback Isaiah Barnes contributed 141 yards rushing, 105 in the second half, and touchdown runs of 52 and 36, plus an 11-yard TD pass to Evan Lapice as the Red Devils improved to 7-0. East Meadow (6-1) suffered its first loss but running back Robbie Healy had a spectacular game. He carried 20 times for 189 yards and three touchdowns -- including scoring bursts of 53 and 46 -- caught a 19-yard TD pass and added a two-point conversion reception.

Healy's 46-yard run off a double reverse brought the Jets to within 29-14 late in the third quarter. That's when Barnes took control. The rangy quarterback (a foot taller than Irby) completed a 35-yard pass, ran for nine, and made a smart cut to the outside for a 36-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion made it 37-14.

"We have so many people who can come out blazing," Barnes said. "In the second half, I just had to go out and replicate what Mo [Irby] did."

Said Freeport coach Russ Cellan, whose teams are annually among the highest scoring on Long Island: "We have as many weapons as we've ever had, Irby is one of the most dangerous of those weapons. Take his size out of it. He's a good running back . . . On that stretch play, he just put it into a higher gear."

The Red Devils' wide receivers are weapons as fearless downfield blockers. In addition to Brown's hit that allowed Irby to score, Lapice, 5-4, 155 pounds, nailed an East Meadow player 100 pounds heavier with a high-speed block that freed Irby for an 18-yard TD run in the second quarter.

"He's a heat-seeking missile," Cellan said of Lapice. "He has more crushing blocks than anyone."

Running back Errol Small, who had only two carries, is another devastating blocker. "He's the unsung hero of the team. He's selfless," Cellan said. "He'll block 100 times in a row and never ask to carry the ball."

Irby, the beneficiary of those blocks, doesn't shy away from contact, either. "I love it. The contact gets me going, it boosts my adrenaline," he said.

That was most evident on his second touchdown early in the second quarter. Irby ran up the middle, absorbed a couple of hits, bounced to the outside, took another shot, and made a shake-and-bake move into the open field.

"He runs hard," Barnes said. "The first guy never brings him down. It's a great feeling to know that anyone of us can go the distance."

And any one of the Red Devils can stretch a defense to its breaking point.


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