With a spirited fourth-quarter comeback, Sachem North's players and coaches treated the turf at Stony Brook's LaValle Stadium as if it were an airport or a train station. They turned it into a kiss-and-cry area.
Running back/linebacker Malik Pierre repeatedly planted his lips on the trophy after the team photo. Coach Dave Falco cried "more than a little bit" as he tried to compose himself before meeting the media.
There were hugs, kisses and tears galore after Sachem North rallied with 10 fourth-quarter points to defeat previously unbeaten Farmingdale, 27-21, Saturday night in the Long Island Class I championship game.
The Flaming Arrows scored the final 20 points of the game to erase a 21-7 deficit. And for the first time in school history, thousands of Sachem fans could chant words that had never been heard in the season's final game: "LIC! LIC! LIC!" was the refrain.
"Coach said we could be immortal. That's why I kissed the trophy," said Pierre, who ran for 73 yards and caught a pass for 59 yards.
"It's a cool thing. We made history," Trent Crossan said.
Those two seniors did a lot to bring the first-ever Long Island championship to Sachem North.
Pierre blocked a punt with 5:27 remaining that turned into a safety when the ball bounced out of the end zone, reducing the Flaming Arrows' deficit to 21-19.
After Kevin Bragaglia's 25-yard return of the ensuing free kick set up Sachem North at the Farmingdale 46, Crossan carried three times for 29 yards on what turned out to be the game-winning drive.
On second-and-1 from the 15, Crossan took a handoff and burst through a huge hole to score the go-ahead touchdown. Pierre added the two-point conversion run. "We were thinking first down, first down, touchdown," said Pierre, who gained 12 yards on the first play of the drive.
"We ran one of our base plays," said Crossan, who carried 15 times for 63 yards and gained a huge measure of satisfaction in his final game after battling serious injuries in each of the last three seasons. "Honestly, the line blocked so great, I just ran through the hole. No one touched me. The feeling was indescribable."
At that point, Sachem North (10-2) had the lead but still needed to hold off Curtis Jenkins and the Dalers (11-1), who had 2:50 to try to mount yet another comeback.
In last week's Nassau I final, Farmingdale beat Massapequa, 29-26, by kicking a field goal on the last play of the game. This time Sachem North's defense stood tall, as it had the entire second half, when it held the Dalers to 75 yards. The Flaming Arrows forced Vinny Quinn into hurried, off-target passes and took over on downs with 1:17 left before running out the clock.
"The defense played better than the offense today," Crossan said. "It's been that way the whole second half of the season."
Special teams lived up to its name, too. Bryan Morris booted a 37-yard field goal on the last play of the first half, cutting Farmingdale's lead to 21-17 and giving the Flaming Arrows a lift. Then came the blocked punt, a play that will live forever in Sachem lore.
"We called 'hundreds' -- a punt-block play where everyone comes. We hadn't called it all year, but it was the right time," said Pierre, who got in clean on punter Bryan Tenny, made the block with his forearm and rejoiced when the ball bounced through the end zone.
"We practice that play every Friday and every time we do, it's 'Oh, here we go,' " Falco said. "But I told the kids we'd need it one time this year. I had a vibe that this was the right time."
For Sachem North, it not only was the right time but the right place -- a place in school history.