Owen Johansen’s 55-yard heave toward the Lindenhurst end zone silenced the crowd. The perfect spiral seemed to float forever and finally landed near the chest of Northport wide receiver JJ Ahlstrand, who was surrounded by three Lindenhurst defenders.
Ahlstrand reached to make the catch in traffic inside the 5-yard line but the ball was swatted away as time expired. Lindenhurst, on the strength of two Chris Carson touchdown receptions, held off previously undefeated Northport, 20-14, in a Suffolk Division II football game on Saturday.
"I was comfortable in watching that last play because our defense had played an inspired game and it wasn’t going to end on a Hail Mary," said Lindenhurst coach Nick Lombardo. "This was an extremely important game for our program and our psyche after last week’s loss against Bellport. We didn’t play Lindenhurst football last week. Today was a different story."
Lindenhurst halfback Jake Trovato capped a 72-yard, 13-play drive with a 1-yard scoring run with 25 seconds left to break a 14-14 tie for the game-winner.
Lindenhurst (4-1) and Northport (4-1) played a bruising affair and were tied at 7 after three quarters. They had traded touchdowns in the second quarter.
Northport opened the scoring on a fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line. Johansen dropped back to pass and was hit hard by linebacker Thomas Wrightington. As Wrightington took Johansen to the turf, the quarterback underhanded a desperation throw into the end zone. Christian Raio standing alone made the catch of the improbable pass for the score. Ahlstrand hit the kick for a 7-0 lead with 8:49 left in the half.
The Northport drive went 80 yards in 17 plays and consumed 6:13. Johansen keyed the drive when he found Aidan Campbell for nine yards on a fourth down and 8 for a first down at the Lindy 25 to keep the march on the move.
Lindenhurst answered with an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that took 4:37. Quarterback Brenden O’Connor found Carson for a 19-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 7 with 3:12 left in the half. The scoring toss came on a fourth down and four play where Carson slipped two tackles to get into the end zone. Igor Rzasa added the kick.
"It was a comeback route, and the defender was on me but there was some separation," said Carson, who had eight catches for 161 yards. "I hit him with a little move as he tried to strip me. Then I reached out for the goal line and got over for the score."
The fourth quarter brough a frenetic pace and three touchdowns in a back-and-forth battle. Carson gave the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead when he hauled in a 79-yard scoring strike from O’Connor with 7:23 left in the game. O’Connor completed 11 of 17 passes for 201 yards.
"It was a skinny post and I got behind the safety and what a great throw," Carson said. "Brenden hit me in stride. I dove for the pylon as the defender grabbed me. I nicked the pylon with the football and it was a great job by the official to see it."
A Campbell interception at the Northport 22 set up the Tigers tying score. On the ensuing play, Johansen was forced from the pocket and rolled right and away from the pressure. As Johansen was squeezed toward the sideline, he fired a dart across his body to Drew Miller in the middle of the field. Miller made the catch and raced across the field and up the sideline for a 78-yard touchdown. Ahlstrand’s kick tied the score at 14 with 4:19 remaining. Johansen completed nine of 21 passes for 210 yards.
"We had a blitz call and we flushed him out from the pocket and he made a good throw," said Lindenhurst tackle Dan DeFelice, who had eight tackles and two sacks. "This is a huge win after the Bellport loss. We didn’t put our heads down, but it hit us very hard. We responded well and clearly made a statement against Northport."