It was hardly the Long Island Championship Game, but it didn’t matter. It had exactly zero playoff implications, but no one cared. It wasn’t crisply played, bit no one seemed to mind. For the Copiague football team, this game meant everything and, on a chilly Friday night in Suffolk II, they walked away with a victory — their first of the season in their last game of the season.
In a battle of winless opponents, Copiague defeated host Deer Park, 20-14, for their first win since week 4 of the 2015 season. The win snapped a 27-game losing streak and allowed the Eagles to sprint into the offseason with positive vibes.
Junior quarterback Noah Tiringer threw three touchdown passes, all to receiver Khalil Chester, including a 78-yard winning score with 3:05 left in the game that broke a 14-14 tie and with it, years of all-mosts. Copiague recovered a fumble in the final two minutes at their own 37 to ice the game.
“I wanted to get a win for the seniors,” Chester, a junior, said. “That’s all I wanted. I wanted them to get a win before they got out of here.”
For the 21 seniors on the Eagles, their high school careers will end with the indelible taste of victory — something that hasn’t exactly been on there plate often. In some ways, this made the flavor even sweeter.
“I’ve been coming to every practice, spring and summer,” senior Victor Gamarra said before pausing to take in the moment.
He looked at his teammates, happier than they’ve been in months and mustered words that somehow captured it all.
“It’s just great,” Gamarra said.
A parade of flags on both sides led to a 91-minute first half. Deer Park quarterback Nahleaj Delbridge scored on a 36-yard keeper up the middle to give the Falcons a 6-0 lead with 8:59 left in the first quarter. The score capped a 5-play, 52-yard drive that lasted 1:56.
But that’s all the offense Deer Park would get in the first half, as Copiague used a touchdown and a two-point conversion, as well as a timely turnover to take an 8-6 halftime lead. Tiringer found Chester for a 45-yard touchdown pass with 9:41 left in the second quarter. Tiringer then fired the ball to Joshua Olivo for the two-point conversion and an 8-6 lead.
Deer Park took a 14-8 lead after a three-yard rushing touchdown from Anthony Fasano and a two-point conversion run by Maurice Henlon with 3:12 left in the third quarter, but Copiague tied it when Chester took Tiringer’s screen pass 94 yards down the right-sideline with 10:27 left in the game.
“It’s unreal,” Chester said. “I’m going to wake up tomorrow morning and it’s going to hit me that we actually did it.”
That feeling will last all winter. And spring. And possibly a lifetime.