Floyd halfback Nick Silva leaned over and helped quarterback Mack Driver to his feet. The two embraced at the 30-yard line and Silva offered some words of encouragement.
Driver’s final pass had been intercepted by defensive back Jordan Jackson at the Freeport 28 and returned 19 yards as time expired in Saturday’s Long Island Class I final. Freeport held on for a thrilling 20-19 win over Floyd before a crowd of 3,500 at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
“I told him we weren’t finished and there were better days ahead at the college level,” Silva said. “We’ve been best friends for a long time and I knew he was hurting.”
The turnover capped a wild second half in which Floyd crept within 20-19 on Driver’s 31-yard scoring strike to Jordan Clinton with 8:18 left in the game. It was his second touchdown pass of the half.
Driver’s 55-yard touchdown pass to Matt Wagner with 6:25 left in the third quarter tied the score at 13.
“Mack played with real heart and put us in a position to win,” Floyd coach Paul Longo said. “I know how badly he wanted this win. I was proud of all our guys. But Silva’s injury really hurt us in the fourth quarter.”
With Floyd trailing 20-19 early in the fourth quarter, Driver hit Silva on a crossing pattern for nine yards and he immediately was tackled by Gerard Smikle at the Freeport 39.
“I felt something pop in my ankle,” said Silva, who was helped off the field. “I had to get back out there, but I really couldn’t pivot on that foot.”
The loss of the four-year, two-way starter was a big blow to the Colonials.
“Nicky is the heart and soul of this team,” Longo said. “And he is critical to the running game, and when we lost that option, it made it harder for Mack and the offense.”
Silva, who had rushed for 55 yards on 15 carries and caught four passes for 58 yards, didn’t play the final 10:46 on offense.
“He’s a warrior and carried us to victory so many times,” Longo said.
When the postgame awards concluded, Silva went over and congratulated Freeport coach Russ Cellan. He initiated a postgame hug with both teams, one of pure sportsmanship.
“Silva is a player, a really tough, physical player,” Cellan said. “What happened with these teams in the postgame was beautiful. This was a fantastic high school football game.”