Giants don’t get taken out easily. Northport’s Justin Gerdvil recognized that as the Tigers held on to a lead in the late going at Lindenhurst. As well as he and the Tigers had played, he knew the Bulldogs weren’t going to see a 30-game regular-season win streak end without a fight.
Sure enough Lindenhurst put together a late drive in a bid for the lead. And that’s when Gerdvil stepped up to make a diving interception at the Tigers’ 31 with just over one minute to play. It took the Bulldogs' last breath and sealed Northport’s 16-14 Suffolk II victory on Friday night.
“You knew that it was going to come down to late plays,” Gerdvil said. “I thought we had what it takes to win this game and we did…It’s the first time anyone on this team has beaten those guys.”
Lindenhurst had gone more than 40 yards on the drive, but was in a fourth-and-long when Gerdvil made the pick.
“Everybody has goals. They all talk about winning this championship or that championship,” Northport coach Pat Campbell said. “But those are destinations. The goal has to be staying together. Tonight when it mattered, they stayed together and had each other’s backs."
A week ago, the Tigers (2-0) won on the play of their special teams. This time it was the defensive unit that made most of the big plays. Northport held a 14-7 lead in the third quarter and a Max Napoli punt pinned Lindy on its own 1. Matt Fuggini continued a game-long trend by getting into the Bulldogs' backfield and made a stop in the end zone for a safety.
“All their backs were in the backfield so I knew I had to get in there and make a tackle,” Fuggini said. “I saw a hole and went to it.”
Said Campbell, “That was just an incredible read by [Fuggini]. He did that all himself, not on a play call.”
Gerdvil, who plays running back and linebacker, put Northport up early by breaking three tackles on a 14-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Max Napoli’s 55-yard punt to the Lindenhurst 8 set the table for the score and the defense forcing the Bulldogs to go three-and-out put the Tigers in position.
They upped the lead to 14-0 before halftime when Sean Jeffrey made an interception and two plays later quarterback Sean Walsh hit wideout Tom Lauinger behind the Bulldogs’ defense on a 33-yard scoring pass.
Lindenhurst had zero net yards rushing in the first half — in part because of five Northport sacks — but opened the second half with an 80-yard drive to cut the margin to 14-7 on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Michael Varela to Emmanuel White. Down 16-7, the Bulldogs cut the margin to two points when Varela hit JC Canobbio for a 33-yard touchdown.
Ryan Smith also had an interception for Northport and Walsh was 3-for-7 passing for 76 yards and the two scores. Arthur Garmatiuk had an interception, Dean Morreale had a fumble recovery and Varela was 15-for-28 passing for 175 yards for Lindenhurst.
“We didn’t think people gave us much of a chance to win this game,” Walsh said. “But we stuck together and made the plays when it mattered.”
Said Smith: “We don’t go into any game thinking we’re not the better team.”