The final play was pure hurry-up: a frantic scramble as MacArthur, without a timeout, lined up for a field goal. Everything was happening so fast, and yet for kicker Kyle Acquavella, “It was like a movie. Everything happening in slow motion.”
Acquavella drilled a 37-yard field goal barely over the crossbar with no time left to give host MacArthur a thrilling 17-14 victory over Elmont on Friday night in a key Nassau II game.
“At first, I thought we were going to spike it, then go for the end zone,” said Acquavella, also the Generals’ quarterback. “Then I heard everyone yelling ‘Field goal! Field goal!’ It was just hurry, snap, kick.”
The Generals (4-2) had held Elmont (3-3) on downs at their own 32 to regain possession with 1:48 left. Acquavella (13-for-32, 166 yards, one touchdown), who struggled all night against the stout Elmont defense, got the winning drive started with a 12-yard completion to Hugh Kelleher. Later in the drive, the two hooked up for 25 yards to the Elmont 19.
The Spartans’ Michael Djalo, who rushed for 133 yards on 24 carries, sacked Acquavella on a blitz for a 12-yard loss that appeared to take the Generals out of field-goal range. On third-and-22 from the 31, Acquavella found Tom Evans for an 11-yard gain. But Evans was unable to get out of bounds, setting up the last-second fire drill.
“The play was 7-78, a roll right, and I was supposed to get out of bounds,” said Evans, who did an excellent job as a defensive back, limiting Elmont receiver Chester Anderson to five catches for 30 yards. “I couldn’t get out of bounds, then I had to run off the field because I’m not on the field-goal unit.”
There was more action and excitement in the final minutes than there was for most of the game. The defenses dominated a scoreless first quarter and neither offense was particularly effective. MacArthur capitalized on a fumbled kickoff to grab a 14-0 lead in the second quarter on Acquavella’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Mike Manfredo. But the Generals wasted a 70-yard drive just before the half and couldn’t add to their lead.
Elmont finally scored on a 13-yard pass from Jean Baptiste to Anderson early in the third quarter but missed the PAT. After MacArthur fumbled away a punt, Baptiste found Jaiyetoro Gordon-Younge for a 10-yard touchdown pass and Djalo tied it with a two-point conversion run off a direct snap.
Nine plays later, Acquavella ended the game in dramatic fashion.
“Like Kyle said, it looked like the kick was in slow motion,” Evans said. “But it flipped in the air right over the crossbar and we stormed the field.”