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Lindenhurst defense rises, offense soars in win over Newfield

Lindenhurst's Jaden Barber (21) and teammates react after

Lindenhurst's Jaden Barber (21) and teammates react after he rushes for a touchdown against Newfield during a Suffolk football game on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Newfield’s playmaker Maxwell Martin was doing his thing. And it was exactly what Lindenhurst coach Nick Lombardo said the Bulldogs were trying to avoid — giving up the big play.

Martin, Newfield’s speedy quarterback with a big arm, had two long gains in the first 14 minutes of Friday night’s Suffolk Division II showdown of unbeatens. Not a good sign, if the Bulldogs were to remain undefeated. Martin completed a 52-yard touchdown pass and scrambled 65 yards to set up a second Newfield score to give the Wolverines the second quarter lead.

“We knew we needed to lock him down,” Lombardo said. “He’s so athletic and when he gets in space he can do some damage.”

The Newfield lead was short lived. Trailing by five, Lindenhurst’s junior quarterback Jack Randazzo engineered an eight-play, 65-yard drive capped by halfback Jaden Barber’s 8-yard touchdown run with 4:38 left in the half. Nick Antos added the extra-point kick for the 14-12 lead and Lindenhurst never looked back in a 33-12 win over Newfield before a crowd of about 600 at Nick DeCillis Field in Selden.

Lindenhurst (3-0), the defending Suffolk Division II champions, reeled off 26 unanswered points, shutting Newfield out over the final 32:52. Newfield fell to 2-1.

The go-ahead touchdown drive was highlighted by Barber’s 25-yard catch and run to the Wolverines 8. Barber also carried four times for 25 yards on the march. He had two rushing touchdowns and also an interception return for a TD.

“Barber turned it around for us with some hard running,” Lombardo said.

The Bulldogs also did well through the air. Randazzo completed 11 of 18 passes for 147 yards and a score. On the opening drive, he moved the Bulldogs down the field by completing four straight passes to the Wolverines 14 before throwing a red zone interception at the 5. He moved the Bulldogs 61 yards before turnover.

“He’s growing as a quarterback and finding his rhythm,” Lombardo said. “He’s a good one and when we run the ball like we can, it opens the offense up.”

With Newfield pinned at its own 5, the Lindy defense forced a three-and-out and a partially blocked punt set up the Bulldogs first score. Barber got a hand on the kick which rolled out of play at the Newfield 25.

On fourth down and eight, Randazzo found Andrew Iula on a short screen and the speedy receiver turned it into a 21-yard gain to the one. Randazzo scored on a sneak and Antos added the kick to make it 7-0 with 4:30 left in the first quarter.

Newfield answered on its next possession. Martin hit Eric Dougherty Jr. for 23 yards and found Angelo Franzese for seven yards to the 48-yard line. Martin then found sophomore Joe Hackal for the 52-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-6 with 2:18 left in the first quarter.

Martin gave Newfield its first lead with a five-play, 75-yard scoring drive, keyed by his 65-yard scramble. On second down and 10, Martin released up the middle and then down the sideline to the Lindy 11. He scored a 2-yard run to give the Wolverines a 12-7 lead with 8:52 left in the half.

It would the last time Newfield would score. The Lindy defense came up with a big stop to start the third quarter. Martin’s pass bounced off the hands of the intended receiver and was intercepted by Warren Dixon at the Wolverines 27. Three plays later, Barber followed some big blocks over the left side and powered his way down field carrying three defenders into the end zone for a 16-yard score and a 27-12 lead.

The Lindy defense led by Will Ruckert and Jack Winey limited Newfield to 48 yards on 23 plays and three first downs in the second half. Martin finished with 122 yards on seven carries and completed seven of 29 passes for 120 yards and three interceptions.

Barber returned a fourth quarter interception 17 yards for a touchdown to seal the win.

“It’s always about the defense,” Lombardo said.

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