Lucas DiGiorgi ran a little harder Saturday. Every run had a little more meaning. Every block a little more passion. Yesterday, Lucas DiGiorgi carried Half Hollow Hills West to a wildly exciting come-from-behind 28-27 win over East Islip in a Suffolk Division II football game in Islip Terrace.
DiGiorgi's burst over left end for 10 yards and a first down sealed the Colts win with 53 seconds to go and left the Homecoming Day crowd disappointed.
"I knew the defense would clog the middle and Frank Pizzurro made a great block to seal the end so I bounced it outside," said an emotional DiGiorgi. "Today I was playing with a little more purpose. I was playing for my grandmother who died on Wednesday. She was always on my mind out there."
Well, DiGiorgi's play would have made his grandmother, 94-year-old Marion DiGiorgi, proud. He pounded the interior of the East Islip defense for 77 yards on 15 carries, including four first downs. His hard inside runnning complemented the outside speed of quarterback Alex Filacouris and halfback Ray Lyte.
"Lucas cannot be tackled by one guy and they stacked the middle to stop him," said Filacouris, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for another.
East Islip (4-3) had forged a 27-21 lead when Jake Piacenti caught a 20-yard touchdown pass on a halfback option pass from freshman Justin Taveras. The extra-point kick went wide left. That miss loomed large when Lyte, the Hills West kick returner, took the ensuing kickoff back to the East Islip 26. Six plays later, Pizzurro caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Filacouris with 5:14 left. Ryan Barone added his fourth extra-point kick for the deciding point.
The Redmen did not go down easily, driving to the Hills West 32 before facing a fourth down and 5 with 2:08 left in the game. Quarterback Jack Hannigan, who'd thrown for two touchdowns and rushed 13 times for 81 yards, was moving his team into position for a game-winning field goal attempt.
Hannigan fired a pass to Piacenti on the slant. Colts linebacker Anthony Leva got his right hand on the pass to tip it away, setting off a wild celebration.
"I had a good read on the QB and my responsibility was in the flat," said Leva. "I stayed in my zone and tipped it."
Leva tipped homefield advantage in the playoffs the Colts way with the defensive gem.
"We can score with anyone," said Hills West coach Kyle Madden. "We needed a big defensive play because our secondary was struggling."
East Islip opened the scoring when Hugens Tranquille made a leaping catch in the back of the end zone. Piacenti added the kick to make it 7-0.
The Redmen extended the lead after Tranquille jumped a crossing route, intercepted Filacouris, and returned the ball to the 1. Sean Karika scored on a 1-yard run for the two-score lead.
That's when DiGiorgi keyed an 11-play, 57-yard scoring march by running six times for 34 yards, before Filacouris ran for a 3-yard score.
East Islip responded on its next 11-play drive when Hannigan found Piacenti for a 15-yard scoring pass for the 21-7 lead. Filacouris countered with a 65-yard scoring drive, capped by a 10-yard scoring strike to Cody Clarson, to make it 21-14 with 36 seconds left.
"We knew the first drive of the second half was a statement drive," Lyte said. "Our O-line just dominated."
Hills West (6-1) opened the second half with a seven-play, 42-yard drive capped by a Lyte 5-yard scoring run on a fourth and goal play. Barone's kick tied it at 21. "This was a huge win," DiGiorgi said. "And it was personal."