It was a postcard-perfect first day of spring Saturday at Manhasset. The home team fit right in with a nearly postcard-perfect first quarter against Bethpage, scoring 21 and allowing none.
The Golden Eagles perked up in the next two quarters, pulling to just a TD and PAT behind. But Manhasset took advantage of a break and held on nicely for a 28-14 Nassau III win.
"That’s high school football," Manhasset coach Jay Iaquinta said. "We weren’t as good as we showed in the first quarter. They weren’t as bad. Momentum changes, and then we’re in a dogfight. But I loved the way we responded when we had to."
Rory Connor threw for 132 yards, with two touchdowns to Ahmad Crowell, and Aidan Mulholland contributed 128 yards of offense. So the conference’s second-seeded team in the preseason moved to 2-0 in advance of an early showdown at top-seeded Plainedge next Saturday.
"They’re a big name; they’re a big team. So are we," Connor said. "We’ve got something special this year, and we’re really looking forward to a great game."
Their 21-0 lead shrank to 21-14. Mike Corbo ran it in from the 1 for Bethpage (1-1) late in the second quarter, and Patrick Dalton (84 yards rushing, 50 yards receiving) took off on a 52-yard scoring run early in the third.
"[Dalton] is a fantastic player," Bethpage coach Roddy McCoy said. "He really got us going. Running the wishbone helped us out a whole bunch today."
But then came the break. An errant punt snap gave Manhasset a first-and-goal at the 9. On second-and-goal at the 6, Crowell ran a slant from the left side and Connor hit the 6-4 receiver for six with 9:09 left.
"He makes my job a lot easier," Connor said.
Connor connected with Crowell for a 35-yard touchdown on the day’s first drive. Then Tyler Roszko scored on a 2-yard run and Connor burst in from the 1.
"I think we didn’t get off the bus to play," McCoy said. "But I’m really proud of the boys in the way they responded after the first quarter."
It was a blowout. And then it wasn’t.
"I think we played all right," Crowell said. "But in order to win next week, we definitely need to step it up."