Plainedge had put its football greatness on display during all eight weeks of the regular season and the first three weeks of the postseason.
Average points for: 41.
Average points against: 7.
But by the time 12 seconds had elapsed in the Long Island Class III championship game against undefeated Sayville on Saturday at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium, the undefeated, two-time defending Class III champion Red Devils already had surrendered seven points after a 94-yard kickoff return and the extra point.
By the time 3:49 had passed, they had given up 14 points. By the time 8:42 had passed, they had yielded 21. They had fallen into a deep hole in the first quarter against the Suffolk champion, and there was no climbing out.
Sayville walked off with a 33-7 victory, ending Plainedge’s two-year winning streak at 23 games.
“The guys are disappointed,” coach Rob Shaver said. “Our seniors, they deserved to win. They did everything they’re supposed to do . . . And we just couldn’t get it done today. We were behind early.”
So the Nassau representatives finished their season at 11-1.
“It was a huge success,” Shaver said. “We put ourselves in positions to win. Our kids did exactly what we asked. We have a great community, tremendous support from our school. We just played one game not so well.
“We did a few uncharacteristic things, between fumbles and interceptions and bad snaps. That’s something we haven’t done all year.”
The Red Devils arrived (and departed) with the respect of Sayville coach Reade Sands.
“Great team, an unbelievably great team,” he said. “We had to put so much effort in our game- planning and trying to design something that was going to really be able to slow them down. On defense, we had to blitz sometimes. We had to hold back sometimes. Our kids did a great job of understanding our game plan and accomplishing it.”
When Luke Hansen cut to the right sideline with the opening kickoff and kept on going, it set the tone.
“The big momentum thing was the kickoff return,” Shaver said. “It’s just tough in a game like this . . . We wanted to kick off, stop them and obviously keep them in their end, and we just never got a chance to do it.”
Then came an interception, setting up the Golden Flashes at the Red Devils’ 14. The second TD came 2:09 later. Then came a short Plainedge punt and a 63-yard touchdown drive.
It was a 27-7 game at halftime after Caden Morra threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Vincent Cavaliere.
Now 23 seniors will be moving on from a Plainedge program that has ruled Nassau III four of the last five seasons.
“We’ll be fine,” Shaver said. “We’ve got some good guys coming back. We’ll be right back in it again.”