Jasawn Thompson tends to take over football games. It just takes a little longer in inclement weather. Such was the case Saturday when Deer Park pounded host Newfield, 26-7, in a pivotal Suffolk Division II matchup in Selden.
Thompson rushed for 227 yards with three touchdowns on 26 carries as Deer Park earned a sixth seed in the playoffs. The Falcons will play at Riverhead in a quarterfinal game next week. Thompson opened the scoring with a 14-yard burst up the middle in the first quarter and added two touchdowns in the second half.
"He's been our go-to guy, carrying our team all season," Deer Park coach Ron Langella said. "It was a rough day weather-wise but our guys had the right focus and ignored the elements."
Deer Park (6-2) can point to its red-zone efficiency as a key to victory. The Falcons reached the red zone in consecutive first-quarter possessions and came away with two scores. Thompson's scoring run capped a six-play, 67-yard march with 7:11 remaining. Kyle Lessick's kick made it 7-0.
Sophomore quarterback Jarett Bonser connected with wide receiver Andrew Ceczka on a 10-yard scoring pass to punctuate an impressive seven-play, 92-yard drive for a 13-0 lead. Bonser defied a vicious crosswind and a cold, slashing rain with intermittent downpours to complete his first four passes for 88 yards, including the scoring strike.
"The O-line gave me time, picking up blitzes and our guys ran great routs," Bonser said. "I just had to get it there. I tried not to think about the wind and kept my passes low on a line."
Bonser's accuracy was the perfect compliment to Thompson's running.
"[Thompson] is amazing and makes people miss," Bonser said. "He's so good the 'D' has to worry about him."
While Deer Park was building a comfortable lead, Newfield stumbled during its three trips to the red zone and the Wolverines almost missed the postseason because they couldn't finish. Newfield (3-5) will travel to top-seeded Bellport (7-1) for a quarterfinal.
"We had our opportunities in the first half," Newfield coach Joe Piccininni said. "We had a big stop on their first series. Then we had a big play to move the ball to their 15 and [had a chance to] take the lead."
Instead, Ceczka intercepted a pass that went off the hands of an open Newfield receiver at the Falcons' 15. "He always seems to be in the right spot," Langella said. "That turned the game around."
Trailing 13-0, Newfield moved into the red zone two more times, only to come up empty. One series ended after a crucial penalty on a fourth-and-1 at the Falcons' 17-yard line. On the ensuing play, end David Hamill sacked quarterback Ryan Klemm to end the threat.
Just before halftime, the Wolverines moved to Deer Park's 18 but Thompson bolted through the line for a 14-yard sack, moving the ball back to the 32. His defensive gem was followed by a huge stop by Hamill and Andre Earl for a 7-yard loss on a draw play.
"Our defense continues to play inspired football," Langella said. "Our defensive coordinator Adam Brown has done a wonderful job with his unit."
The Falcons padded the lead in the third when Thompson burst around right end and sprinted 81 yards for a TD. He added an 8-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter for a 26-0 lead.
Brown's defense was impenetrable in the second half. The Falcons held Newfield to minus-9 yards on 18 plays and no first downs. They lost the shutout when David Siopa returned a fumble 68 yards for a touchdown with 5:44 left.
"They really wanted the shutout," Langella said. "But we'll take the win."