It didn’t start as planned, but the Dan Villari and his Plainedge teammates showed who’s the boss on Saturday.
After allowing a touchdown on the opening kickoff, the Red Devils settled in behind quarterback Villari to defeat Roosevelt, 45-20, and improve to 6-0 in Nassau III.
Roosevelt (3-3) took a 6-0 lead after the 75-yard touchdown return by Malik Colcough, but Plainedge responded with a seven-play drive, capped by a 4-yard touchdown run from Dion Kuinlan (14 carries, 113 yards) that gave the Red Devils a 7-6 lead and momentarily calmed the Plainedge sideline.
But Roosevelt would respond on its next possession. Eddie Torres caught a quick slant from Idris Carter and ran 65 yards before being pushed out of bounds at the Plainedge 2-yard line. With no room for error, the Plainedge defense hardened, stopping Roosevelt’s Kevon Hall on three runs — including one for a loss of eight yards — then blocking a short field goal attempt.
“It was the biggest moment of the game,” said Plainedge coach Rob Shaver. “It’s amazing we could stop him for any yards, not to mention three straight plays on the goal line.”
Hall, who entered Saturday as Long Island’s leading rusher with 1,352 yards and 16 touchdowns, was held in check for most of the game, but managed to keep Roosevelt competitive into the second quarter. After another Kuinlan touchdown run put Plainedge ahead 13-6, Hall broke through tacklers for a 51-yard touchdown run on the next possession to bring Roosevelt within a point.
But that was as close as the Rough Riders would come, because from the midway point of the second quarter, it was quarterback Villari’s game.
Villari opened the next drive with a 13-yard run on an option, then found Joe Yarusso for a 35-yard strike to set up a first-and-goal. After a holding call negated a touchdown run, Villari hit Donovan Pepe on a 14-yard out on third-and-goal, who then stretched the ball across the pylon for a touchdown. Plainedge forced a three-and-out on the next possession, and Villari would eventually sneak in for a 1-yard touchdown run to give Plainedge a 26-12 lead at halftime.
Villari finished with 122 yards passing with two touchdowns, and 99 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
For the junior quarterback, it was all just part of the game plan.
“We came in looking to play hard, pound the ball,” said Villari. “We did just that.”