Kevin DiCapua seized the moment. The kicker jogged to the West Islip huddle and then lined up for the biggest kick of the Lions season.
The dream of continuing an undefeated senior season was right before him. It was overtime and on the road against Half Hollow Hills West. There is no bigger moment.
The stifling West Islip defense had done its job and shuttered Hills West in overtime with the score tied at 13. And now it was DiCapua’s moment to end it.
“I just stayed focused,” DiCapua said. “I knew what was going on all around me. I just had to make the kick.”
Center Joe Valentino fired a perfect snap to holder Kevin Cunningham, who placed the ball at the 22 before DiCapua’s golden right foot struck the middle of it, the ball splitting the uprights for the game-winning kick.
The field goal set off a wild celebration as West Islip edged Hills West, 16-13, on Saturday before more than 1,200 fans in a pivotal Suffolk Division II football game.
“It’s the greatest feeling ever,” said DiCapua. “We felt this was a statement win for us. This win isn’t just about my kick, it’s about all of us. We play so well as a team. Our mantra is ‘We Are West Islip,’ and it means we are in this together.” The win moved West Islip to 6-0 and dropped Hills West to 4-2.
“I was kneeling on the sideline next to my center James Foote and praying Kevin would end it,” said West Islip quarterback Jake Guercio, who rushed for 137 yards on 33 carries and scored two touchdowns. “When it went through there was this feeling of relief. My body is shot because it was such a physical game.”
Guercio scored both touchdowns in the first half as West Islip opened a 13-0 lead. He scored on a 1-yard run to cap a 12-play, 73-yard drive in the first quarter. DiCapua added the extra-point kick to make it 7-0 with 6:45 left.
And Guercio added a 3-yard touchdown run to punctuate a 16-play, 71-yard drive with 8:23 left in the half for the 13-point lead.
“We have tremendous confidence in the offensive line,” said West Islip coach Steve Mileti. “And Jake’s a workhorse and takes so much pride in it when his number is called. This was an excellent high school football game.”
Hills West responded to Guercio’s second score with a long drive that needed only four plays to find the end zone. Sophomore quarterback Gerald Filardi threw a 40-yard strike to the leaping Cameron Jordan in the end zone for the touchdown and Matt Barone added the kick to get the Colts within 13-7 with 6:22 left in the half.
“They have great athletes and make plays,” Mileti said. “We had great coverage on that one and he still made the catch.”
The Colts tied it in the third quarter after Jordan returned a punt 51 yards to the West Islip 45. Two plays later, halfback Jeff Terry burst around left end and went 32 yards for a touchdown. The extra point kick failed and the score was tied at 13 with 7:02 left.
In overtime, the West Islip defense forced a fourth down and 12 play and captain Drew Cestaro knocked down a screen pass intended for sophomore halfback Deyvon Wright, who had 109 yards rushing on 19 attempts.
And it was left to DiCapua, who finished the job.