Syosset took an early shot to the chin, but is hanging in the ring with two-time defending county champion Freeport here at Hofstra's James M. Shuart Stadium, as the Red Devils lead the Conference I semifinal 20-10 at the half.
On the first play from scrimmage, Syosset quarterback Daniel Ventricelli, who threw a Nassau playoff record five touchdown passes in a win over East Meadow last weekend, threw an interception to Jalil Burton.
Two plays later, Daniel Olivier (pictured above) ran it in from 2 yards out to give Freeport a 7-0 lead less than a minute into the game.
Freeport (8-1), which defeated Syosset 41-7 in Week 5, was stopped on fourth down inside the red zone on two straight drives. Syosset capitalized with an 11-play drive that culminated in Logan Fischer's 25-yard field goal that made it 7-3 early in the second quarter.
On the second play of the ensuing drive, Isaiah Barnes hit a wide-open Jere Brown for a 55-yard touchdown pass to make it 13-3 (the point-after was blocked).
Syosset (5-4) responded with a seven-play drive capped by Ventricelli's 8-yard TD toss to Nicholas Bilianis on fourth-and-7 to make it 13-10.
But again, Freeport answered back — quickly. Maurice Irby took a handoff up the gut 37 yards and Edwin Sandoval added the extra point to make it 20-10 just 2:23 later.
Syosset nearly pulled back within three, but Burton intercepted another Ventricelli pass, this time in the end zone on a second-and-6 from the 19.
That's where we stand at the half...
**UPDATE (7:34 left in the third quarter)**: Freeport now leads 26-10 after Barnes hit Jeff Williams for a 12-yard TD pass. Barnes was hit as he threw, but Williams managed to make a beautiful diving catch in the end zone for the score.
The opening drive of the second half went 65 yards in 10 plays in 4:26. The extra-point attempt clanged off the post.
**UPDATE (6:24 left in the third quarter)**: Syosset went three-and-out and was forced to punt. On the first play of the next drive, Barnes took a keeper 69 yards for a touchdown to make it 33-10.
**UPDATE (2:24 left in the third quarter)**: Syosset has pulled back within two scores at 33-18. Ventricelli hit Chris Park on a bubble screen, and Park took it 12 yards for a touchdown on fourth-and-3. Park also caught the two-point conversion. The Braves' drive 65 yards in 13 plays in exactly four minutes.
**UPDATE (8:07 left in the fourth quarter)**: Freeport now leads 39-18, as Olivier scored on a 35-yard run (his second of the night) on the third play of a 54-yard drive. The extra point missed, leaving the Red Devils one point shy of their seventh straight 40-point game.
**UPDATE (7:17 left in the fourth quarter)**: Well that was fast. Syosset responds on a three-play, 68-yard drive capped by Joe Morris' 22-yard TD run to make it a 14-point game, 39-25.
That's the end of the ballgame, as No. 1 Freeport (9-1) earns a 39-25 victory over No. 5 Syosset (5-5) to advance to next Thursday's county final at 7 p.m. back at Hofstra against the winner of No. 2 Oceanside and No. 3 Farmingdale.
Scores by quarter for Freeport: 7, 13, 13, 6
Scores by quarter for Syosset: 0, 10, 8, 7
F-Olivier 2 run (Sandoval kick)
S-Fischer 25 FG
F-Brown 55 pass from Barnes (kick blocked)
S-Bilianis 8 pass from Ventricelli (Fischer kick)
F-Irby 37 run (Sandoval kick)
F-Williams 12 pass from Barnes (kick failed)
F-Barnes 69 run (Sandoval kick)
S-Park 12 pass from Ventricelli (Park pass from Ventricelli)
F-Olivier 35 run (kick failed)
S-Morris 22 run (Fischer kick)
*For complete coverage of this game and the Oceanside-Farmingdale game, see tomorrow's Newsday and Newsday.com.