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Travis Shaver, Plainedge thump Wantagh to improve to 7-0

Travis Shaver #12, Plainedge quarterback, hurdles his way

Travis Shaver #12, Plainedge quarterback, hurdles his way to a 24-yard gain and a first down after recovering a botched snap in the third quarter of a Nassau County Conference III football game against Wantagh at Plainedge High School on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021.  Credit: James Escher

Plainedge left little doubt about which program is the one to beat in Nassau Conference II on Saturday.

Wantagh rolled into the Red Devils’ Edward Byrne Memorial Field with an unbeaten record, a 28-point average margin of victory and stingy defense that had allowed just 39 points all season.

More or less, Plainedge just shrugged.

The Red Devils (7-0) were strong, athletic and aggressive on both sides of the ball to dispatch Wantagh, 35-14, and take over sole possession of first place.

"We wanted to make a statement and I think we definitely did," Plainedge quarterback Travis Shaver said. "There’s more work to do because we have only one goal: to be the Long Island champions."

Plainedge won the Long Island Class III crown in 2019 when it was last held.

"This was a good game for us because that’s a tough Wantagh team that won a county championship (in Conference IV in the spring) and has a couple all-Long Island talents," Devils coach Rob Shaver said. "We’ve been rolling along pretty good. We needed a game that required us to be competitive for four quarters."

There hadn’t been too many of those for Plainedge, which entered play having outscored foes 262-20.

"They did what they do with energy and athleticism and really outplayed us in the first half – we were barely able to get much going," Wantagh coach Keith Sachs said. "We recovered and were in position to maker it a game, but that’s a little late for us."

Travis Shaver rushed 12 times for 107 yards and scored touchdowns on runs of 5 and 38 yards while going 8-for-11 passing for 74 yards and 14-yard TD to Joe Iadevaio. While he made more than a handful of great plays, none will be remembered more than one right in the middle of the opening possession of the second half.

On a second-and-13 at the Wantagh 38, a badly executed shotgun exchange ended up on the gound in front of him with Wantagh defenders closing in. He deftly picked the ball up and through sheer speed and slipperiness turned it into a 25-yard gain. Dylan Pepe scored on a 13-yard run on the next play as the Devils went up 28-7.

"It’s the best I’ve seen him play," Rob Shaver said.

The QB responded to the assessment with, "there’s always room to improve."

Pepe scored both of Plainedge’s second half touchdowns and was especially key late in the game when Travis Shaver ceased to be a rushing threat after tweaking a thigh. Pepe rushed 18 times for 95 yards and added a 1-yard touchdown late.

Shane Mosia led the Devil defense with 15 tackles and Domenico Antonacci had eight tackles and an interception. Wantagh quarterback Joe Legovich was 6-for-11 passing for 121 yards and a 76-yard touchdown to Anthony Reale.

On Wantagh’s first possession of the second half, Tyler Martini took a sweep around the right end 63 yards for a touchdown as the lead was trimmed to 28-14. When the next Plainedge possession ended with Jake Martini picking off Shaver, it looked like Wantagh was ready to make it a game.

Wantagh nearly got into the red zone before Joe Cassese sacked quarterback Joe Legovish for an 11-yard loss on a Second-and-13. "I shucked my block and there was no one between me and him," Cassesse said. "I was glad to make such a big play."

All that was left was for Pepe to seal it on a 1-yard touchdown to cap a 15-play drive that ate up 8:06 of the final 10 minutes.

"They got the sack when we needed to score and then really ate up the clock," Sachs said. "They made the plays good teams make."

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