Oceanside so dominated Massapequa in the first half of Saturday’s battle of Nassau Conference I unbeatens that it almost seemed to be posing a question to the rest of the postseason field: ‘Does anyone actually think they can keep up with us?’
By mounting a big second-half comeback to get within striking distance, Massapequa offered an answer: ‘We believe we can!’
The cement didn’t set until Oceanside quarterback Charlie McKee capped a phenomenal performance by running a sweep to the left side for a 2-yard touchdown run with 1:52 left. Host Oceanside needed to survive a last-minute Massapequa touchdown and a heart-racing onside kick, but when time ran out, the Sailors had a 42-34 victory to earn the top-seed for the postseason and home-field advantage throughout.
Oceanside (6-0) will begin a bid for its third county title and first since 2017 on Saturday when it hosts a semifinal game against Syosset. Massapequa (5-1) will have the No. 2 seeding and host East Meadow in the other semifinal with an eye toward getting a rematch.
McKee was 21-for-33 passing for 291 yards and four touchdowns, three to Michael Mecca and one to Nick Ebel. Mecca caught five passes for 91 yards and the touchdowns were on McKee throws of 13, 16 and 21 yards. Ebel’s touchdown reception was a 7-yarder.
And all of that is largely due to the line play of Joey Broderick, Michael Furst, Mario DePasquale, Giff Stiansen and Anthony Corvino.
"We have an incredible offensive line that barely allowed Charlie to be touched today," Sailors coach Rob Blount said. "The opportunities for us are just endless when he has time to sit back there, relax and read his guys running their routes."
"With them giving me time, it’s going to be hard to play us," McKee said. "I’ve been here three years and know the ins and outs of this offense. And having the receivers I have, my job is easier and it has to be a nightmare for defenses."
It looked as if Oceanside was going to steamroll Massapequa early on, scoring on their first four drives and rolling up 295 total yards to take a 28-13 lead into the break. On one scintillating play, McKee looked like he might go over the left side before he rolled back across the field, pointing the whole time, and delivered a 39-yard strike to Mecca to the Massapequa 16-yard line. The two hooked up on the next play for a touchdown.
"It was an astonishing play," Broderick said. Added Mecca, "Charlie was really on the mark — what a play."
Oceanside also would score on its first possession of the second half — Mecca’s third TD — for a 35-13 lead. But when the Sailors tried to run the ball and manage the clock, it opened the door for Massapequa and quarterback John Giller.
A fourth-down stand set up a 41-yard drive which ended with Timothy Morrow’s 16-yard TD run. The Sailors punted on the ensuing possession to set up a 65-yard drive capped by Giller hitting Dom Casamassina for a 19-yard touchdown that cut the margin to 35-27 with 7:54 to play.
Oceanside finally rediscovered the accelerator resulting in McKee’s dive for a score, but Giller quickly answered by finishing a no-huddle drive with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Hillgardner.
Giller was 13-for-19 passing for 204 yards and three scores and he also ran for a touchdown.
"At halftime we had a soul-searching talk about how we wanted to play in the second half and finish," Massapequa coach Kevin Shippos said. "They definitely won the first 24 minutes. I think we won the second. I’m proud of the fight my guys showed. Hopefully we get the chance to see them again in two weeks."