For three and a half quarters of football, Mount Sinai and Babylon waged a defensive battle -- typical of this Suffolk IV rivalry. Each team capitalized on a big defensive stop to score their lone touchdowns.
But the final 4:34 was about as exciting as high school football can get. It was punch, counterpunch, knockout in a wild back and forth scoring frenzy.
The knockout came when Mt. Sinai quarterback R.J. Voos threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to a Griffin McGrath for the winning score with 46 seconds left as the Mustangs came back to beat Babylon, 19-15, Saturday at Islip.
"We've run that play a 1,000 times in practice," McGrath said. "I was in front of the defender and he fell down when I jumped. And then it was a clear ride for the next 30 yards to the end zone."
Voos sprinted down the field to meet his receiver. "He's got great hands and I just had to get it out there," Voos said. "We had great protection that gave me enough time and allowed me to set my feet and let it fly."
The frenetic scoring started at 9:41 of the fourth quarter after McGrath, a senior, intercepted a pass at his 34, halting a Babylon drive.
Trailing by a point, Mt. Sinai marched 66 yards in 10 plays punctuated by a Mike Carniero 3-yard TD run to a take a 12-7 lead with 4:34 left. "I thought that was good enough to win it," Mt. Sinai coach Vin Ammirato said. "Both teams were playing great defense but we know Babylon isn't going down easy."
The Panthers countered with a 13-play, 76-yard drive capped by a Jerry Brown 11-yard scoring run with 1:26 left to retake the lead. Quarterback Scott Sasso hit Brown with a quick slant for the two-point conversion to make it 15-12.
The drive was keyed by two big receptions. Sasso hit Brian Boehm for 15 yards on a fourth-and-13 situation to the Mt. Sinai 40. And wideout Jason Carlock made a diving catch for 24 yards to the Mustangs' 11.
"There is no such thing as a quality loss," Babylon coach Rick Punzone said. "We have things to work on. But I am proud of my guys for having the character to come back and never quit."
Mt. Sinai opened the scoring with a six-play, 68-yard drive. Senior halfback Christian Knabb had a 12-yard scoring run around the right end for a 6-0 lead with 5:37 left in the half.
The Mustangs threatened to take a two-score lead when linebacker Nick Ceseno recovered a fumble at the Panthers' 32. They moved to the Panthers' 17 before Knabb was leveled on a pitch out and defensive end K'Sean Reid alertly scooped the fumble and rumbled 76 yards for what would have been the tying score. A block in the back negated the touchdown and the Panthers took possession at the Mt. Sinai 33.
Three plays later, Sasso lofted a beautiful touch pass down the middle of the field that Carlock corralled for a 31-yard touchdown with 32 seconds left in the half. Sasso added the extra-point kick and the Panthers led 7-6.
It stayed that way until the final 4:34.
"Big win for us," said Mt. Sinai linebacker Nick Klugger, who had six solo tackles and seven assists. "We had a great game plan and we gang tackled well. It's just a big team win."