It hasn't been a typical Garden City season, what with the introduction of the spread offense and less reliance on the running game. But Friday night, by far the Trojans' toughest test of the season, two old standbys -- defense and the ground game -- produced a thrilling 20-18 victory over host Long Beach in a Nassau II battle of undefeated teams.
Scott D'Antonio rushed for 135 yards on just eight carries, quarterback Brett Stewart added 95 yards on seven carries and the Trojans' defensive line stuffed J.T. Forkin on a potential tying two-point conversation run with six seconds left.
The game will be broadcast in its entirety on MSG Varsity at 9 a.m. Sunday.
Be sure to stay until the end, because there was plenty of drama. D'Antonio's 51-yard burst up the middle gave the Trojans (6-0) a 20-12 lead with 6:02 left, but after Stewart's breathtaking 74-yard run to the Marines' 5, Gerard Smith barely missed a 24-yard field goal, giving Long Beach (5-1) a chance.
The Marines took over on their own 20 with 3:30 left and produced a remarkable scoring drive. Adam Salvadori hit Chris Parler for 11 yards and a first down and made a brilliant scramble for 25 yards to the Garden City 39. Forkin, who rushed for 149 yards on 29 carries, gained 17 yards on three carries and then Salvadori made another alert scramble, this one for 18 yards to the 9. Three plays later, on fourth-and-goal from the 4, Salvadori hit Parler on a quick slant for a dramatic touchdown.
But then the Trojans ganged up to stop Forkin a yard short of the goal line.
They marched 71 yards in eight plays, with Forkin catching a 17-yard pass followed by a nifty 22-yard cut back run for the touchdown and an early lead with 1:44 left in the first quarter. The two-point run failed.
Garden City forced Long Beach to punt into a strong wind and the 17-yard boot gave Garden City good field position at the Marines' 32. Two plays later, D'Antonio started inside, cut to the sideline and broke a couple of tackles on a 23-yard touchdown jaunt. Gerald Smith's PAT gave the Trojans a 7-6 halftime lead they never relinquished.
By the slimmest of margins.