Nick Fischetti needed two human crutches to help him leave the field after rolling his ankle with about a minute left in the third quarter. The star running back's left foot dangled uselessly in the air, and, after squandering a 17-point lead, Seaford suddenly seemed equally as hobbled.
When, minutes later, an ankle-taped Fischetti burst through a scrum and scampered in for what proved to be a game-winning, 74-yard touchdown, Seaford seemed equally as untouchable.
Helped by a key block from Tyler O'Donnell, Fischetti scored with 7:22 left, helping host Seaford erase a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit and beat West Hempstead, 31-27, in a battle of previously unbeaten Nassau IV football teams Saturday.
"The line opened up a huge hole and I just saw it," Fischetti said. "Then I was looking over my shoulder and I saw one of my friends make a big block upfield and I scored easily."
Fischetti's score was the ice cream middle of game-winning Seaford sandwich. When the senior was out of the game, rushing duties shifted to Austin Quiroz, whose 14-yard TD with 11:23 left in the fourth quarter drew the Vikings to within four. After Fischetti's third touchdown of the game gave Seaford the lead, the Vikings recovered their own onside kick.
Seaford went three-and-out, but key tackles by Tyler Hertz, Quiroz and Nick Silvestri denied the Rams despite a 14-play drive by West Hempstead that took up the final 5:07 of the game, including a 30-yard run by Michael Petrizzo on a broken pass play.
"I saw a lot of young kids grow up in a hurry," Seaford coach Rob Perpall said. "[West Hempstead] had speed on their side. We had to play as a total team where everybody did their job. If everybody does their job, then we can play with anybody."
Seaford (4-0) stumbled in the second and third quarters, allowing all three of speedster Tayvon Hall's touchdowns. The first was a toss-sweep that ended in a 44-yard score. Anthony Messina intercepted a pass on the first play after the ensuing kickoff, giving the Rams the ball at Seaford's 16-yard line. Four plays later, Hall broke a tackle near the line of scrimmage and deked a second defender for a 5-yard score, pulling the Rams within 17-12.
Hall (22 carries, 134 yards) added a 3-yard score to give West Hempstead (3-1) its first lead of the game with 8:04 left in the third. When Enrique McFarlane scored on a 30-yard run with 3:40 left in the third, the Rams' lead was 27-17.
"Very, very bad," Quiroz said of how he felt after the turn of events. "We put our heads down; we weren't looking forward. But we came back and we knew we had to play."
That went for Fischetti, too. The bruiser had 203 yards on 31 carries and was back on the field about as soon as he was cleared by the trainer -- about five minutes of down time.
"It hurts, but it'll be better though," he said after the game. "It's just a little roll . . . It was a great day. Perfect. It was worth it, worth every minute."