Gerald Filardi had to be pulled from the field – against his will. The Half Hollow Hills West captain was suffering from dehydration and cramping everywhere.
He came out briefly and talked his way back on to the field for one more series. The senior quarterback threw a perfect 25-yard touchdown pass hitting Justin Brown in stride in the back of the end zone with 6:37 left for the final score as Half Hollow Hills West beat Sayville, 34-18, in a pivotal Suffolk Division III football game before a crowd of 1,400 in Dix Hills.
Filardi’s day was over. He was nearly perfect completing four of five passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns. He also has six tackles and a diving interception on defense.
“He’s a true warrior,” said Half Hollow Hills West coach Kyle Madden. “He stuck it out with major cramping issues on a really hot day. What a leader.”
Filardi’s 52-yard strike to Jake Cetta set up a Sadiq Hinds 28-yard touchdown run to open the scoring with 3:11 left in the first quarter. His 14-yard scoring pass to Eliot Porter gave the Colts a 14-0 lead with 7:23 left in the half.
“My legs were cramping pretty bad,” Filardi said. “Even my forearms were cramping, it wasn’t good.”
Hills West (2-0) stumbled a bit through the end of the first half and the start of the third quarter. And that was a direct result of a young, swarming Sayville defense that continued to play aggressively and forced a few turnovers.
Sayville’s defense was fantastic. They blocked a punt and forced two fumbles as the Golden Flashes scored three straight touchdowns. Quarterback Brock Murtha’s third short touchdown run of four yards, forged an 18-14 lead with 10:05 left in the third quarter.
“We play assignment football,” said Sayville coach Reade Sands. “Everyone has a job and we play as a unit. A breakdown can be costly against athletes like the ones on Hills West. And they got us on a few big plays. But we’ll learn from those mistakes and get better.”
One missed assignment would spell doom for Sayville.
On first down and 10 from the Hills West 27, halfback Deyvon Wright followed a Joe Venezia block up the middle and burst into the open field for the go-ahead 73-yard touchdown run with 4:53 left in the third quarter. Matt Mandel added his third extra-point kick to make it 21-18.
“It’s who we are,” Hinds said. “We keep pounding the rock until we break a few big runs. Once we’re in the open field it’s over.”
After the Hills West defense forced a three and out, the Colts got another big touchdown run. This time, halfback Justin Brown broke loose for a 78-yard scoring romp and a 28-18 lead with 2:40 left in the third quarter.
“I thought our guys showed a lot of character,” Madden said. “We had some devastating mistakes and we bounced back. We were resilient.”
As was Sayville. The Golden Flashes fell behind, showed the moxie to seize the lead, and then let it get away against a very explosive Colts backfield that totaled 253 yards rushing.
“I told my guys we lost our first real fight,” Sands said. “I lost my first real fight - it happens. I liked our emotion and how we responded. And it’ll make us better for next time.”