Given what was at stake, a berth in next week’s Long Island Championship, this was the most tension-filled game I’ve covered this season.
After a scoreless first half, the back-and-forth drama in the fourth quarter was terrific theater. There were three huge plays in 1:24 early in what turned out NOT to be the final period.
First, Islip’s Jeffrey Craig hooked up with R.J. Going for an 88-yard touchdown pass that, after the extra point, tied the game at 7.
Before the Islip fans had stopped cheering, Sayville’s Tom Hannan returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards to the Islip 49. Three plays later, Steven Ferreira found James Rupp down the leftside for a 49-yard scoring play, highlighted by Rupp’s tackle-breaking move at about the 10.
Then, with Sayville poised to close out the Bucs, Craig worked some magic on fourth-and-13 from his own 48 with 2:43 left. His long pass to Going bounced off the receiver’s chest right into the arms of teammate Johnny Maher, who raced about 15 yards for the game-tying touchdown.
Sayville almost won it in regulation, but John Haggart’s 35-yard field goal in the final seconds was just short. Haggart, pictured above, however, wasn’t done putting his stamp on the game.
In the first overtime, the rapidly maturing sophomore blocked the PAT kick after Islip had scored first. In the third overtime, after Rupp intercepted Craig to stop Islip, Haggart carried five straight times and scored the game-winning TD on a 2-yard plunge.
Here are some other facts and observations that I was unable to include in my game story because the three overtimes pushed me to the deadline limit of my accommodating night editors:
John Haggart, Sayville. He rarely left the field. He wound up with 33 carries for 119 yards and three touchdowns. He also sacked the elusive Craig twice, playing nearly the entire game at defensive end to add some speed to Sayville’s pass rush.
Steven Ferreira, Sayville: Held mostly in check by Islip’s tough defense, the junior managed just 141 yards on 9-for-23 passing, but threw for his 26th touchdown of the season.
Tom Hannan, Sayville. Caught 3 passes for 70 yards, returned a kickoff 50 yards and made a touchdown-saving tackle on Craig in the second quarter. Hannan angled across the field from his safety spot to knock Craig out of bounds at the Sayville 26 after a 52-yard dash around left end that looked like it might go the distance. The Bucs did not score on that drive.
Jeffrey Craig, Islip: One of the Island’s most exciting players, Craig gained 92 yards rushing on 30 carries, including nine tackles for losses or sacks that greatly reduced his total. The Golden Flashes’ defensive game plan was effective. Craig completed only 4-of-15 passes, but they went for 159 yards and one touchdown. He was intercepted twice.
Johnny Maher, Islip: Caught three passes for 61 yards and a touchdown, carried five times for 29 yards and was in on several tackles as a defensive back.