Will Ruckert made turf angels at midfield. After receiving the first Long Island Championships trophy in Lindenhurst history, he did a cartwheel.
“It feels like I’m on top of the world,” he said after Lindenhurst defeated Oceanside, 40-23, on Sunday in the Long Island Class I championship game at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium.
Ruckert batted a pass at the line of scrimmage as part of a dominant defensive front. Malik Grant broke up two passes and added seven tackles for the Bulldogs.
“Defense was everything,” Grant said. “We knew that if our defense showed up, we would have success during the whole game, and our defense did show up. We looked shaky at times, but we stepped up when we needed to and we had a great game and we came out with a win.”
Zotto contributes big pick-6
Justin Zotto’s 19-yard interception return for a touchdown with 9:49 left in the third quarter gave the Bulldogs a 37-23 lead.
“I was backpedaling and I knew they were going to run a lot of those quick outs, those quick hitches, and I just saw the ball come up and made a play on it,” Zotto said of his pick-6.
Zotto also caught an 8-yard touchdown pass with 7:59 remaining in the third quarter on an out route to the right pylon and made a leaping 32-yard grab at the sideline.
Quarterback Nick Anzalone said the touchdown pass to Zotto was harder to execute than the one-handed grab by Jeremy Ruckert in the third quarter because Zotto did not have much separation.
Ricky Conway had one receiving touchdown, one rushing touchdown, two punt returns for 59 yards and two kickoff returns for 56 yards. He led the Bulldogs in all-purpose yards with 152.
“It means the world to every single one of us,” Conway said. “This is the best feeling in the entire world. We said the whole season ever since last year when we lost, we’re going to get a ring. That’s exactly what we did. We came out and played our hearts out.”
Record-breaking receiving for Oceanside
With the 11th of his 17 catches, Oceanside’s Derek Cruz broke the record for most receptions in a Long Island Championships game. The previous record was 10 by Babylon’s Jake Carlock in 2013 and Seaford’s Kevin Murphy in 2016. Cruz had 166 receiving yards. Jake Lazzaro also eclipsed the previous mark with 14 receptions for 180 yards.