Considering that Seaford threw exactly zero passes in its victory over Cold Spring Harbor in the Nassau IV championship game, what unfolded under breathtakingly blue skies on Friday afternoon qualified as a Haley’s Comet kind of event.
“They weren’t expecting us to pass because our running game was so good during the year,” sophomore quarterback Logan Masters said. “We worked on it during the week to change it up.”
Seaford spent the change wisely. Masters threw for 147 yards, including a touchdown pass on the last play of the first half, and Joe Angelastro provided blue-collar balance with 133 yards rushing and three touchdowns in a thrilling, back-and-forth 29-27 victory over Miller Place in the Long Island Class IV championship game before more than 3,000 at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
Seaford (10-2) gave coach Rob Perpall an unforgettable send-off in his final game. Miller Place, which drew a huge crowd in its first visit to the Long Island Championships, also finished 10-2.
“We thought their line was so huge that we wouldn’t be able to run the ball 50 times against them,” Perpall said. “We wanted to keep them off balance, and I think we did.”
After taking over at the Miller Place 45 with 55 seconds left in the second quarter, the Vikings, trailing 12-7, moved to the Miller Place 31 with two seconds left and reached into the little-read chapter of their playbook. “We wanted them to think we were going Hail Mary right,” Perpall said. “We went left where there was one-on-one coverage. I told him [Masters] to throw the ball over the defender’s head.”
Masters delivered and Zachary Grof made a tumbling catch in the end zone. Then Masters rolled right and barely lunged to the pylon for the two-point conversion that provided a 15-12 halftime lead and an emotional boost.
“It was huge for us. It changed the momentum of the game,” said Masters, who completed 8 of 15 passes. “It gave us the lead at the half and the feeling we could win.”
That feeling grew stronger when Angelastro, who had 24 carries and proved Seaford hadn’t completely abandoned its signature style, bolted 19 yards for a touchdown with 6:52 left in the third quarter. Andrew Cuchel’s kick made it 22-12.
The key play of the drive was the first one, from the Vikings’ 7. Masters dropped into the end zone and hit Sean Allen down the left side for 57 yards. “That was 144 Chico,” Masters said of the play’s nomenclature. “I fake a handoff and hit the tight end down the field. I trusted him to make the play.”
Perpall called it “the play of the game. We used a one-receiver pattern from our own end zone.”
But the Panthers marched 63 yards in seven plays, sparked by Anthony Seymour (12-for-18, 126 yards, two touchdowns). He hit Tom Nealis for 13 yards, gained 17 yards on a quarterback draw and hit Nealis again for a 23-yard touchdown. A two-point conversion run by Tyler Ammirato (14 carries, 72 yards) made it 22-20.
Seaford answered with a clock-killing drive that featured 11 running plays and ended with Angelastro’s 11-yard dash up the middle. “We beat ’em with a draw play,” Perpall said.
Not without some late anxiety. After Miller Place moved within 29-27 on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Seymour to Anthony Filippetti with 8:50 remaining, the Panthers drove to the Seaford 41, helped by Filippetti’s 37-yard catch-and-run on a swing pass. But on third-and-24, Seymour’s pass was intercepted by Ryan Butler at the Seaford 23.
“This is unbelievable,” Angelastro said. “We’ve been dreaming about this since August.”
For Seaford, there was something special in the air.