The East Islip defense was worn out. They’d made big play after big play and still they were asked to stop Sayville quarterback Jack Coan, arguably the greatest quarterback Long Island has ever seen, one more time.
Coan and undefeated Sayville trailed by seven with 1:55 left and no time outs from their own 18. Long Island’s leading passer, with 124 career touchdown passes, marched the Golden Flashes out to the 40 and ran out of time. Coan fired a 5-yard pass to Michael Dionisio, who pitched to Ashton Bradley, who was immediately smothered by a swarming East Islip defense as time expired.
Bedlam ensued as East Islip celebrated a wild 42-35 upset victory over previously unbeaten Sayville to capture the Suffolk Division III championship Thursday night before a crowd of more than 3,500 in LaValle Stadium at Stony Brook University.
Sayville (10-1), the defending Class III champions, saw Long Island’s longest current winning streak end at 22. East Islip (9-2) has been to nine of the past 11 Suffolk title games and marches into the Long Island Class III title game against the winner of Friday night’s Nassau III championship game between Wantagh and Roosevelt.
The Redmen will meet the winner in Shuart Stadium at Hofstra University next Friday at 4:30 p.m.
“I’m not surprised,” said East Islip defensive tackle Kyle Nunez. “We have a lot of respect for Coach [Rob] Hoss and Jack Coan and I’ll be cheering for him when he goes off to college. But tonight it was about us and what goes on in our locker room. Our defensive coordinator Mike Gentile gets all the credit, he had a great game plan. And we played man-to-man defense in coverage and we relied on our pass rush to put pressure on Jack.”
The combination of East Islip’s fierce pass rush and tight man coverage slowed the Sayville offense throughout the first half. “We had a couple of stops and then we relied on our run game,” Nunez said.
The East Islip defense set the tone on Sayville’s first possession. Defensive tackle Alec Marjoribanks keyed the three-and-out series with a 6-yard sack of Coan. Safety Stone Locke broke through the line and blocked the punt which was recovered by Travis Knott at the Sayville 13.
Six plays later, Kyle Fleitman scored the first of his three first-half touchdowns, on a 1-yard quarterback sneak and Doug Carpluk added the extra point as East Islip grabbed a 7-0 lead.
East Islip forced another three-and-out and took over at its 25. The Redmen drove 75 yards in five plays, punctuated by Fleitman’s 29-yard touchdown run to give East Islip a 14-0 lead with 2:10 left in the opening quarter. It was the first time all season that Sayville trailed by two scores.
The Golden Flashes were forced to play catch up all game.
And they couldn’t keep up with Fleitman, who carried 28 times for 248 yards and three touchdowns and threw for another score. Fleitman accounted for 631 yards rushing in the past two playoff games as East Islip avenged regular season losses to Westhampton and Sayville.
He had first half touchdown runs of 1, 29 and 59 yards as the Redmen opened a 35-14 lead. With 1.8 seconds left in the half, Fleitman threw to the end zone on the final play and Bobby Madigan outjumped the defenders for a 29-yard touchdown.
“Our offensive line was outstanding,” Fleitman said. “And we made the big plays.”
Coan completed 20 of 33 passes for 243 yards, one interception and two touchdowns in the final game of his storied career. He also rushed for 108 yards on 14 carries and a score.
“When we’re healthy we can run the ball on anyone,” said East Islip coach Sal J. Ciampi.
“You always expect a kid like Jack Coan to pull it out. But tonight we got the final stop.”