There's good reason the East Meadow football team punted only nine times this season. The Jets have a punishing runner, John Wilson, in short yardage. And the offensive line is so good that coach Vin Mascia rarely punts.
The East Meadow offensive line played in beast mode throughout Friday's 40-20 win over Freeport in a Nassau Conference I football quarterfinal. The Jets converted five of six fourth downs and scored on four of five first-half possessions to open a 27-20 lead.
"We play with our noses in the dirt and pound the rock," East Meadow guard Tom Maltese said, his uniform caked with mud. "We play aggressively to win every play."
Maltese, guard Marcus Watkins, tackles Mario Froehlich and David McGee, center Matt Mascia and tight end Zach Fritz cleared the way for the Jets to rush for 462 yards.
"It's extremely important to play as a unit and be as nasty and physical as possible," Watkins said. "It completely wears people down when you come at them every play."
Freeport (4-5) traded touchdowns throughout the first half. D'Monte Woody capped a four-play, 80-yard opening drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to make it 7-0 with 10:01 left. East Meadow answered with an eight-play, 64-yard march capped by the first of Wilson's three short touchdown runs to make it 7-6.
Woody added a 45-yard touchdown run and Wilson countered with a 27-yard scoring run to tie it at 13 with 25 seconds left in the first quarter.
"I was very concerned that we couldn't stop them," Mascia said.
That's right about when the East Meadow line put its stamp on this one. The Jets used a 12-play, 64-yard scoring march, punctuated by Anthony Love-Kemper's 10-yard touchdown run for a 27-20 halftime lead.
East Meadow put this one away with a third quarter to relish. The Jets ran 22 plays to three by the Red Devils. Freeport fumbled on its lone possession before the Jets embarked on a 16-play, 80-yard march. Wilson scored from a yard out on the first play of the fourth quarter for a 34-20 lead.
"The absolute turning point in the game came on that fumble," Freeport coach Russ Cellan said. "He was going in for the score to tie it.""He'll learn how to take care of the ball."