Johnny Football resides in Shoreham.
His name is Johnny Schwarz, and he was Johnny on the spot in Shoreham-Wading River’s 28-21 win over top-seeded Mount Sinai on Friday night as the Wildcats captured the Suffolk IV football championship at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium.
The sophomore impacted the game from everywhere on the field. He had two second-half interceptions, a fourth-quarter fumble recovery deep in Wildcats territory, a 71-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown and the biggest first down of the game late in the fourth quarter.
Schwarz’s first interception at the Mustangs’ 27 set up Xavier Arline’s third touchdown, a 4-yard run that broke a tie at 21 early in the third quarter.
But the play they’ll talk about for years will be his 9-yard run for a first down to the Shoreham-Wading River 30 with 2:01 remaining in the game.
Schwarz was set up to punt on fourth-and-3 from the Wildcats’ 21. The long snap came in on a tricky hop, but he didn’t panic. He blocked the snap from getting past him, scooped the ball and darted toward the line without any hesitation, bulling forward for 9 yards and a first down.
Schwarz said it wasn’t a fake punt at all but an improvised play.
“The wind caught the ball and it fell to my feet,” he said of the long snap. “I bobbled it and took off.”
The play turned potential disaster into a game-saving first down. Shoreham managed two more first downs and was able to run out the clock.
It was Shoreham-Wading River’s fourth Suffolk title in the past five years. SWR (10-1) will meet Cold Spring Harbor for the Long Island Class IV title at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Stony Brook University.
After a first half that featured a back-and-forth affair and six touchdowns, it was all defense in the second half. Defensive tackle Liam Mahoney led a Shoreham unit that shut out a Mount Sinai offense that totaled 188 yards in the first half. The Mustangs managed only 42 yards after halftime.
“We knew we had to dig in and tough it out, and our guys did that,” Mahoney said. “This is the best feeling in the world. It’s my third county championship and it feels even better winning as a senior.”
The first half was a wild scoring affair. On the third play from scrimmage, Arline, who had a hand in all four SWR touchdowns, swept around right end on third-and-5 and ran 54 yards to give SWR a 7-0 lead with 10:13 left.
Mount Sinai (10-1) answered with an eight-play, 68-yard scoring march capped by Mike Sabella’s 1-yard run to tie it at 7.
The Mustangs took a 14-7 lead on the next possession when quarterback Brendan Ventarola hit Matt Lomonaco on a short crossing route and the speedy wideout turned it into a 16-yard TD with 8:37 left in the half. Lomonaco keyed the drive by diving to make a 25-yard reception at the Wildcats’ 5.
SWR tied the score at 14 when Arline threw a dart to a streaking Schwarz for a 71-yard touchdown.
Mount Sinai used a balanced attack to march 56 yards in nine plays, mixing runs by Sabella, Lomonaco and Dom Boscarino. Lomonaco’s 36-yard run keyed the drive, which reached the Wildcats’ 5 with 1:22 left in the half. On fourth-and-goal from the 5, Ventarola rolled right and fired a 5-yard scoring strike to a wide-open Boscarino. Shane Bombace added his third extra-point kick for a 21-14 lead with 1:09 left in the half.
The lead lasted all of 15 seconds, as Arline took the ensuing kickoff down the visitor’s sideline for an electric 83-yard return for a touchdown. Jake Ekert’s third extra point tied the score at 21 with 54 seconds left.
Then Schwarz and the Wildcats’ defense stymied Mount Sinai throughout the second half to take home the title.
Said Schwarz, “We all made big plays.”
His were the biggest.