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Jake Trovato, Lindenhurst rally to knock off Northport

A two-point conversion after Jake Trovato of Lindenhurst

A two-point conversion after Jake Trovato of Lindenhurst scores the final touchdown puts Lindenhurst in the lead 22-20 sealing their win at the Suffolk High School Conference II semifinal playoff game against Northport on November 12, 2021 in Lindenhurst . Credit: Dawn McCormick

This looked like it was finally going to be the year after three decades, the year Northport would be heading back to a Suffolk football final.

The fourth-seeded Tigers owned a 14-point cushion over No. 1 Lindenhurst with time getting short Friday night in this Suffolk II semifinal. One problem: Their opponent wouldn’t give up.

"We just looked at each other," said Jake Trovato, Lindenhurst’s standout senior running back/linebacker. "We all said, ‘We got each other’s back. We’ve got to fight.’ "

The Bulldogs proceeded to score 16 points in the final 5:07, including Trovato’s tying TD run and go-ahead two-point conversion run with 31 seconds remaining, to claim a stunning 22-20 win at Lindenhurst Middle School.

So Lindenhurst (9-1) will be at Stony Brook on Nov. 20 against No. 2 Bellport, which defeated Half Hollow Hills East on Sunday after inclement weather halted that game on Saturday.

"These guys have been very resilient all year, our team, and they were again today," Bulldogs coach Nick Lombardo said.

Dan Eagers contributed 106 yards rushing for Northport (7-3), and Owen Johansen ran for one TD and threw for two, including a 40-yarder to Jack Helrigel and a 23-yarder to J.J. Ahlstrand. An errant snap after that second one led to no PAT kick attempt after an earlier Northport extra-point try got blocked. So it was 20-6 Tigers with 10:26 left.

The Bulldogs cut it to six, then they forced a punt that Chris Carson returned 16 yards to the Tigers’ 40. Eleven plays later, it was third-and-goal from the 1. Trovato, finishing a 111-yard rushing day, ran straight — 20-20.

Northport jumped offsides for a third straight time on the PAT kick. The ball moved to the 1. Lombardo switched and went for two, and Trovato plowed in for the lead.

"It’s a moment I’ll never forget," Trovato said.

Lombardo made a quarterback change after falling behind by 14, going from Brenden O’Connor to fellow senior David Varela, who provided a spark.

"Varela’s a bigger kid," Lombardo said, "and we thought he would be able to run the ball."

Varela ran for 32 yards and threw for 64. He capped his second drive by running it in from the 1.

"My nerves are through the roof," Varela said. "But it’s times like these you have to come clutch."

Christian Capogna threw to O’Connor for two — 20-14, 5:07 left. The momentum had turned.

"I tell my team all the time, ‘It’s not your turn,’ " Tigers coach Pat Campbell said. "That’s not the way sports works. You’ve got to go earn it, and you’ve got to earn it for four quarters. And we didn’t do that."

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