When Manuel Salvatierra went to sleep Saturday, any dreams the Port Washington senior had might not measure up to his afternoon reality.
Salvatierra, an offensive lineman and linebacker, returned an interception 26 yards for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter as the host Vikings defeated Roslyn 21-7 in a battle of previously unbeaten Nassau Conference V teams yesterday.
Roslyn quarterback Gunner Alagna dropped back to pass at his own 26, the score tied at 7-7. He threw to the right, where Salvatierra grabbed the ball, getting into the end zone unscathed with 6:35 left to play.
"I jumped in between two people and picked it and saw open field, nothing but green," Salvatierra said. "[I thought] 'Is this really happening?' On offense, I'm a lineman, I never touch the ball . . . It was great."
Port Washington (6-0) sealed the game when the next offensive play by Roslyn (5-1), a pass by Thomas Davis in the wildcat, was picked off and a 50-yard drive ended with a 2-yard touchdown by Mike Gennusa with just about a minute left.
Three takeaways proved to be the key for Port Washington, which had two close calls on passes but no turnovers.
Neither team could establish momentum after trading scores in the first quarter. The defenses held firm, and every time someone got a little momentum going, a penalty would end the threat. Roslyn had eight penalties for 55 yards, while the Vikings had 11 for 95. Defensive lineman Anton Livshin always seemed to be around the ball for the Vikings.
"The offense wasn't clicking, but the defense covered our butts," Gennusa said. "They really helped us out."
Roslyn seemed poised to take the lead early in the fourth quarter, marching from its own 38 to the Port Washington 10. With first-and-goal, a false start moved the Bulldogs back 5 yards. Davis (151 yards, 26 carries), did the bulk of the work on the drive, but on the 11th play, he fumbled and Angel Reyes was able to recover at the 8.
"I thought we were going in for it," Roslyn coach Michael Corcoran said. "We kept shooting ourselves in the foot."
Port Washington coach Jamel Ramsey said, "That was a huge momentum switch. If they score, that lets the air out of the balloon."
Scott Belarge made the second interception with about six minutes left, putting the ball at midfield. Port Washington was able to chew up the clock with a nine-play drive, seven of which were runs by Gennusa (110 yards, 24 carries). Nothing fancy, just running through the holes created by the offensive line until he found the end zone.
"[Gennusa] just ran like a horse," Salvatierra said. "He couldn't be stopped. He's an animal, he just keeps on running."
Port Washington opened the scoring four minutes into the game when quarterback James Burns faked a handoff and ran right for a 7-yard score.
Roslyn got back into it on its next possession when Davis found open field on third-and-10 and dashed 59 yards to the end zone.