Ryan Hofmann took less than a minute to serve notice on the Longwood football team that he was unstoppable. The Lindenhurst quarterback dissected the Lions secondary on a four-play, 73-yard opening drive that ended with a 37-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver River Zotto. The drive lasted 53 seconds and issued an emphatic statement -- "you can't stop us.''
Hofmann added three more touchdown strikes in the first half as Lindenhurst opened a 26-0 lead on its way to a convincing 26-7 victory over Longwood on Saturday night in a battle of unbeatens in Suffolk Division I.
Hofmann completed 22 of 33 passes for four touchdowns and one interception as the defending Suffolk I champions dominated in the first half.
"River was wide open on that first touchdown,'' Hofmann said. "My receivers make it easy. They run the right routes and we have excellent timing.''
Hofmann's second scoring toss came on a well-timed fade to wide receiver Joe Palmeri, who beat the defender to the corner, and made an over-the-shoulder catch for a 13-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter.
"They executed our game plan,'' Lindenhurst coach Nick Lomabrdo said. "I thought our lines gave them all they could handle.''
Lindenhurst (5-0) added two more scores before halftime. Hofman found Palmeri for another scoring pass, this one for 26 yards. The senior signal caller never saw the catch as he was hit hard as he released the pass.
"He stood in there and took some big hits,'' Lombardo said.
On the ensuing kickoff, Longwood fumbled and Lindenhurst took over at the Lions' 30. Hofmann, who suffered a sprained ankle midway through the second quarter but never came out, fired a 28-yard pass to wide receiver Jeremy Ruckert to the 2. And then he punctuated a brilliant half with a 2-yard scoring pass to Ruckert, who made a spectacular one-handed grab.
"His confidence is unbelievable this year,'' said Ruckert, who had nine receptions for 96 yards. "We worked all summer on our offense and he's got so many weapons. People don't even know about Zotto and he's the best athlete on our team.''
The hard hitting continued throughout the second half. Longwood (4-1) used 8:15 of the third quarter and drove to the Bulldogs' 7-yard line but failed to score. Linebackers Bob Bove and Gino Bonagura led the charge as the Bulldogs' defense stiffened.
The defense was asked to rise again when the Lions' Mike Linbrunner intercepted a deflected Hofmann pass at the 36. This time it was a sack by senior defensive tackle Kyle Wilner that helped stop the Lions.
"We felt we were getting off the ball quickly,'' Wilner said. "We played smart football and followed the coaches' plan.''
It worked to perfection.