Pat Carlin broke at the line of scrimmage, took a few steps down field before faking inside and cutting to the corner of the field. It looked like a route he ran hundreds of times for East Meadow — because it was — including once earlier Saturday afternoon.
Trailing by three points on a third-and-10 with 1:07 remaining in the fourth quarter, Carlin knew he was going to be called on to make the game’s biggest play. Quarterback Anthony LaRosa rolled to his left with only Carlin in mind, and fired a strike near the sideline 17 yards to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Mike Dolley (98 yards, two touchdowns) in a 28-24 East Meadow home Nassau I football victory over Oceanside Saturday.
“That ball was coming straight for me,” Carlin said. “I was like ‘I’m catching it. I got to catch it.’ I had no other choice. I caught it, made sure I had my one foot in, looked up and they ruled it in and I was psyched.”
“Our chemistry is great,” LaRosa said. “I love throwing it to him and we’re making plays and make it happen.”
East Meadow (2-2) trailed Oceanside 21-7 in the first half as Sailors quarterback Tommy Heuer threw for all three scores. Then with 40 seconds remaining in the first half, LaRosa found Carlin on a touchdown — foreshadowing the identical route with a near exact result — as East Meadow made the score 21-14 before Francesco Ancona kicked a 29-yard field goal for Oceanside.
The East Meadow defense wouldn’t allow another point and the offensive and defensive line began creating generating better pushes, leading to playmaking opportunities.
“We had to come out there and play like a bunch of grown men,” said lineman Liam Laskowski. “We know what we’re capable of. We went out there and executed and we let the backs do their jobs.”
But East Meadow knew it was entering the game shorthanded. The Jets had multiple two-way starters injured, including Justin Reyes, one of their most elusive playmakers, and linebacker Kyle Barker.
“It’s almost like we’re doing it for the people who got injured,” Laskowski said. “It’s a setback but that happens in life.”
Heuer, who finished 14 of 19 for 223 yards, nearly drove Oceanside (2-2) down the field with less than a minute left to win the game. He connected on his first two passes to Derek Cruz and Bernie Diaz, bringing the Sailors to midfield. But Oceanside couldn’t capture another first down.
“I think everyone was a little nervous,” said linebacker Tyler Love, “but we had to do what we had to do to stop them and win this game.”
Each of Oceanside and East Meadow’s four games in as many years have been separated by one score.
“You have two great teams going at each other and the feeling to win on your home field when you needed to,” Love said, “there’s no better feeling.”