There were times in the fourth quarter when Ramin Wahab wore the wear of the game on his back -- when the exhaustion from his seemingly endless pursuit of West Islip's two quarterbacks manifested itself in slumped shoulders and laboring legs. When the brutal heat and the Lions' late-game surge seemed primed to finally tire him out.
That play? That was not one of those times.
With West Islip down by a touchdown and threatening on fourth-and-4 on the Half Hollow Hills West 22, Lucas DiGiorgi chased Conor Smith out of the pocket and into Wahab, who tackled him in the backfield to end the game and secure the Colts' 21-14 win Saturday in Suffolk II.
The sack was the first of the game for Wahab, who nonetheless spent 21/2 hours as Hills West's point man on the pass rush, putting intense pressure on Smith and Joe Rushton, who played the majority of the game at quarterback.
"The offense had been lacking a bit, so defensively, we had to step up," Wahab said. "I'd put good pressure on him . . . [For the sack], I just tackled his right hip."
Added DiGiorgi: "On fourth down, coach said get the quarterback . . . I put pressure on him and he ran right into Ramin."
It was the latest in a series of huge defensive plays for a Colts team that shut out West Islip (0-3) for more than three quarters.
With the Colts leading 7-0 and eight minutes left in the third, Joseph Cipoletti chased out Rushton, whose resulting desperation lob rattled off the fingers of a receiver and into Cody Clarson's hands for an interception.
Three plays later, on third-and-3 at his 40, Anthony Lucarelli hit Alexander Filacouris up the middle. Filacouris muscled through a waist tackle at the Lions' 40 and cruised in for the two-score lead with 6:26 to play in the quarter.
DiGiorgi, who opened the scoring on a 1-yard dive in the second quarter, scored on a 5-yard run with 11:22 left in the fourth quarter to make it 21-0. He was backed by the effort of an offensive line that, he said, "was better than [West Islip's] front line. I knew we were going to get a good push and I found the hole."
The Colts (3-0), though, would need every bit of that. With 7:31 left to play, Drew Cestaro bounced off a tackle and broke free for a 6-yard TD. Two minutes later, Mike Lombardi picked off Lucarelli deep in Hills West territory and, on the next play, Cestaro scored on a 5-yard run.
They just made good plays," said Cipoletti, who led Hills West with eight tackles. "They made plays when it counted the most."
But though they seemed overmatched in the fourth quarter, the Colts' defense saved its best for West Islip's final drive.
There was Isaac Smith, who stuffed Smith on a keeper and Matthew Fattibene, whose pass pressure led to an incompletion; Ahmaad Crowell made a key tackle on the line of scrimmage and DiGiorgi broke up that final play.
And then, of course, there was Wahab, who, after an afternoon of giving chase, finally got his man.
"We definitely stepped it up a notch," Wahab said. "Everyone did their job . . . And I was looking for our big play."
It just happened to be the one that he'd been attempting all along.