After Garden City kept up its end of the bargain, so did MacArthur.
The Generals got a titanic performance from featured back Hugh Kelleher, scored the first 40 points against Cinderella Valley Stream Central and rolled to a 40-21 Nassau Conference II semifinal victory on Saturday at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
MacArthur (10-0) gets a date with Garden City (9-1) in Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. county title game, a contest that pits the two most-dominating teams in Nassau II all season. The Generals will be playing for their third Nassau championship and first since 2015.
MacArthur won their regular season meeting, 27-7, and ended the Trojans’ 42-game winning streak.
The 6-2 and 210-pound Kelleher didn’t take a step backward all day. The senior carried 28 times on the day for 230 yards and the Eagles likely felt every inch of it as he accrued most of it with a bruising style in the middle of the field. He scored three touchdowns — on runs of 4, 15 and 70 — and blocked a punt to set up another score.
“He is all about team success,” MacArthur coach Bobby Fehrenbach said. “If you want to talk about personal accomplishments or accolades — and you could — he wants no part of it.”
“Last year we lost a semifinal to Carey and we have a bunch of guys back from that team so we saw we could be good,” Kelleher said. “At this point I’m trying to leave it all on the field every time we play. There just aren’t that many games left.”
Joe Manfredo rushed for a touchdown and passed for another, Ryan Isom had a 29-yard touchdown run and Colin Muller and Matt Bergan had fumble recoveries for the Generals. Quarterback Robert Nunez ran for 101 yards and a touchdown and passed for 98 yards and a score for VSC.
MacArthur scored on all of its five first-half possessions. The Generals didn’t need a hand, but the Eagles, who came out of a preseason No. 10 seeding to make a postseason run, gave MacArthur the ball on a fourth-and-1 failure, two fumbles and the blocked punt.
The Generals’ squib kick to open the game went off an Eagle for the first turnover. Seven plays later, Kelleher scored his first touchdown on a 4-yard run. VSC (7-3) gave up the ball on downs when Kelleher stopped Nunez short on a fourth-and-1 near midfield and eight plays later Manfredo took a naked bootleg for a 6-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead after a quarter.
Muller’s fumble recovery led to Isom’s score, Bergin’s fumble recovery was the table-setter for Kelleher’s 15-yard score and Kelleher’s blocked punt set up a four-play drive for a Manfredo-to-Dan Calderon 15-yard TD and a 34-0 halftime lead.
“[Garden City] is definitely going to be ready to play us again,” Kelleher said. “We ended their streak so they'll be wound up about that. And we’re always looking for a battle. It should be good.”