They were relentless. Plainedge's Robert Ng, Ryan Bauer and Rob Oliver swarmed Lawrence quarterback Joe Capobianco time and time again in yesterday's Nassau III showdown of unbeatens.
Each time Capobianco thought he'd escaped the pressure, Ng or Oliver were there to deliver the big blow and another sack. Seven times, the Plainedge defensive front sacked Capobianco and dropped him for big losses.
"We were all over him," said Ng, who was credited with four sacks. "The secondary had great coverage and he held the ball and we got to him all game."
The all-around defensive effort enabled Plainedge to beat Lawrence, 36-20, ending the Class IV champs' 15-game winning streak before a crowd of more than 1,200 in Cedarhurst.
"We had a simple four-man rush with no blitz packages," said Oliver. "We just beat them up front on both sides of the ball. We came here last year and lost by 63 points -- and that was on our minds. This was a huge win."
Plainedge (4-0) dominated in every phase of the game. The defense was excellent, holding record-breaking quarterback Capobianco to a late touchdown pass with 1:00 left in the game when the outcome was decided.
Capobianco completed 20 of 32 for 278 yards and one interception. He spent most of the day fleeing the pocket and finding his receivers well covered. The Golden Tornadoes running game was non-existent, averaging 1.8 yards per carry.
"We shut down a good offense and we did it on their field," said Bauer. "We had total control up front. They couldn't run the ball and we could."
Plainedge sophomore halfback Davien Kuinlan rushed for 153 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown. He also caught a TD pass. The offense found itself moving the ball at will as the line continually pushed the Lawrence front around.
Bauer, the center, and company were getting into the second level of the defense and flattening the linebackers, clearing the way for the backs Kuinlan and Gianfranco Sorriente, who added 55 yards on 10 carries and a score.
"We had a great push and our backs knew when to cut off the blocks," Bauer said. "Our communication was really good and we had no breakdowns."
Plainedge quarterback Nick Frenger opened the scoring with a 5-yard run in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead. Lawrence responded with an 11-play, 85-yard scoring march capped by a Jordan Fredericks 10-yard touchdown run. The point after was missed and the Golden Tornadoes trailed, 7-6.
Frenger brought the Red Devils right back, punctuating a six-play, 80-yard scoring drive with a 25-yard TD screen pass to Kuinlan for the 14-6 lead.
Capobianco got the Golden Tornadoes within 14-12 at the half when he scored on a 26-yard run with 42 seconds left. The two-point conversion pass fell incomplete.
It was as close as they would get as Plainedge dominated the second half. Kuinlan's short TD run and a 54-yard scoring pass from Frenger to Kevin Walker made it 28-12 with 1:51 left in the third quarter.
Said Frenger, who completed five of 12 passes for 100 yards and two scores: "This feels real good."