Sam Khodaparast was a picture of efficiency on Saturday afternoon.
The Massapequa senior running back only carried the ball four times, but he still managed to find the end zone twice in the fourth quarter, including a 3-yard run with 2:10 left, lifting the Chiefs to a 25-21 victory over previously undefeated Farmingdale in Nassau I.
“I was hearing all the fans, everybody cheering, and I was nervous, I’m not going to lie,” Khodaparast said. “But I knew I had to watch my blocks and trust my teammates. I needed to make the right cuts and be able to get the touchdown.”
Khodaparast’s touchdown capped a seven-play, 73-yard drive for the Chiefs, and while his run gave Massapequa (4-1) the lead, it was set up by senior wide receiver Alex Rende and junior quarterback John Giller. The pair connected for a 39-yard completion on third-and-five, keeping the Massapequa drive alive, before Giller took the ball on three straight carries to put the Chiefs just short of the goal line.
Rende, who Massapequa coach Kevin Shippos called “in my opinion, the best receiver in the county,” finished with seven catches for 121 yards. Giller was 15-of-22 for 256 yards, one touchdown and one interception and rushed for 93 yards on 14 carries.
“(Farmingdale) knew about (Rende), they game planned for him and he just made unbelievable catches,” Shippos added. “(Giller is) an outstanding athlete who has a lot of confidence in himself and it showed today.”
Farmgindale (4-1) led 21-13 heading into the fourth quarter after senior quarterback Nick Lundin tossed a pair of touchdown passes in the third. He found Kevin Wilson for a 37-yard strike with 5:15 left and connected with Jordan Smikle from 26 yards out with 33.9 seconds in the frame.
Still, Shippos said Massapequa was never worried, turning its attention to making plays on offense, particularly on the line.
“I’m very confident in those guys,” Shippos said. “They work extremely hard, they’re a very close group and they got the job done today. I believe in them one-hundred percent.”
The Chiefs proved Shippos’ belief well-founded, notching positive yardage on all 10 plays of their first fourth-quarter drive, including Khodaparast’s 3-yard touchdown run with 7:33 left.
Farmingdale had a chance to respond after Khodaparast’s second touchdown, but the Dalers fumbled on the ensuing kickoff and senior defensive back Juan Arango recovered the ball, wrapping up the victory for Massapequa.
“As soon as I saw the ball I jumped,” Arango said. “That was my first thought and I held onto it as tightly as I could.”
Now, Massapequa is hoping to build off this win, looking for a few more well-timed plays in the back half of the regular season.
“Everybody underestimated this team,” Khodaparast said. “But now everybody is going to be watching out for us.”