Ben Ferrara had spent the day imposing his will on the ground, but there was still just enough time to make his mark on the defensive side of the ball.
Following a fumble near midfield with 1:49 remaining, the Locust Valley junior defensive back intercepted a pass on the ensuing play and returned it 61 yards for a touchdown to extend the Falcon lead to 16.
“They had a little seam route and our lineman, Matt Jones, made a good hit on the quarterback,” Ferrara said following Locust Valley’s 40-24 home victory over Malverne in a Nassau IV football game on Saturday afternoon. “The ball came out a little softly in the air and I just jumped it, and that was it.”
A 2-yard touchdown run by Malverne quarterback Rashad Teachey, followed by a 2-point conversion pass to Michael Warren, cut the Locust Valley advantage to 33-24 three plays prior to Ferrara’s pick-six.
Ferrara’s impact was felt throughout the day as he led a strong Falcons’ rushing attack with 175 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. His 6-yard touchdown with 10:19 remaining stretched the Locust Valley lead to 26-16.
“He’s the real deal,” Locust Valley coach Casey Neilly said of Ferrara’s performance. “He’s all over the field. He just makes great cuts and he gets behind the line and trusts his teammates. He keeps the ball moving and gets us going.”
Ferrara, however, said his offensive line should receive all the recognition.
“I give all the credit to our line and fullback,” Ferrara said. “We basically ran three or four plays the whole game. They were just blowing up holes and I was just getting in there and getting as many yards as I could.”
Carlo Paz also produced for Locust Valley (3-1) on the ground, adding 13 carries for 70 yards and two touchdowns. He opened the scoring on a 14-yard run with 58 seconds left in the first and tacked on another score with 6:26 to go in the third, putting the Falcons ahead 33-16.
Louis Ridley broke through with a 15-yard touchdown run for Malverne (2-2) with 2:44 remaining in the first half. Teachey ran in for the two-point conversion, and Locust Valley led 12-8 at halftime.
Paz, who also plays linebacker, was pleased with how the Falcons executed the game plan by limiting Malverne’s own dynamic run game.
“I think we contained the run pretty well,” Paz said. “They have some fast, athletic kids on their team. But we definitely held them down to short yardage.”
Neilly said the Falcons will now prepare for next week’s matchup with Clarke, which came up with a late 12-9 victory over Locust Valley last season.
“I think the kids have that in the back of their mind and they really want to go back there and redeem themselves,” Neilly said.