North Babylon quarterback Ross Tallarico pitches the ball against West...

North Babylon quarterback Ross Tallarico pitches the ball against West Islip in the Suffolk Division II football final at LaValle Stadium on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Even though North Babylon has long been known for its ground-and-pound offense, the Bulldogs are more than capable of throwing the ball.

Sophomore quarterback Ross Tallarico, for one, enjoys airing it out. “I love to throw the ball,” he said. “But usually all we need to do is run the ball.”

The Bulldogs rushed for 253 yards and dominated the time of possession battle (33:26 to 14:34) on Friday, but defending champion Garden City defeated North Babylon, 24-6, in the Long Island Class II championship game at Hofstra.

It was North Babylon’s first trip to the Long Island Championships since 2009. The Bulldogs also lost that game to Garden City.

Tallarico was 3-for-6 passing for 57 yards, including a 28-yard scoring strike to Quadir Russell with seven seconds left in the first half as North Babylon (10-2) pulled within 7-6. The first-year varsity quarterback also rushed for 74 yards on 14 carries and had three tackles, including a sack, as a defensive back.

“I thought for a 10th-grader, in a big spot, he had a very good day today,” North Babylon coach Terry Manning said. “He’s a talented kid, a good athlete, and he’s still learning the position.”

One of Tallarico’s few miscues on the evening was an interception returned 92 yards for a touchdown by Trevor Yeboah-Kodie that capped the scoring for Garden City (12-0) with 6:40 remaining.

“I never saw [him] there,” Tallarico said. “He made a great play on the ball.”

Manning understands it’s a learning process for Tallarico. “The mistakes you see are from a first-year quarterback,” he said. “But that’s all right, because he’s going to get better.”

The Bulldogs will graduate nine starters from their offense, according to Manning, including senior running backs David Estrella (157 yards, 29 carries) and Anthony Sobotker (21 yards, five carries). Tallarico will be counted on next season.

“It was a great year, and I’m proud as hell of the kids,” said Manning, in his 27th year as head coach. “They played hard and they represented the town and the community very well.”

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