When South Side needed its quarterback most, William Pickett delivered.
Pickett was able to power his way through the teeth of the Roosevelt defense for 215 yards and three touchdowns during the team’s Nassau Conference III game to lead South Side to a 21-18 victory on Saturday.
“[Pickett] is deceptively fast for as big as he is,” South Side coach Phil Onesto said of his 230-pound quarterback. “There is never going to be one guy to get a tackle on him. It is always going to be two or three and he usually breaks through those, too. He was the reason we won today, but the offensive line and wide receivers made great blocks.”
With the Cyclones' offense stalling in the second half and Roosevelt’s offense heating up to score 12 unanswered points, Pickett needed to string together a successful drive. And he did just that.
The quarterback led the offense on a seven-minute drive to end the game, including a key 10-yard run on fourth-and-7 with 2:46 left.
“We knew we had to go back to what worked for us in the first half,” Onesto said. “We knew William is a special player and we kind of rode his back and we told the offensive line and the receivers to make our blocks to make it easy for us to grind out a couple of first downs and get a W.”
As impressive as the final drive was, Pickett’s first rushing attempt of the game was the signature play of the day. He broke left, received a few key blocks and eluded several tacklers for a 60-yard touchdown run in the first minute of the game.
“I hit the edge and I saw all the blocks were perfect,” said Pickett, who had 29 carries. “The last guy on the line blocked [the defender] all the way in and I just took off down the sideline. It was perfect blocking is what it was.”
Idris Carter then led Roosevelt on a six-minute drive ending with his 1-yard touchdown run, but the point-after attempt was blocked and the Rough Riders were down 7-6. Then, Pickett took over for the Cyclones.
On the first play of South Side's ensuing drive, Pickett rushed for 35 yards. Next, he broke several tackles on his way to a 28-yard touchdown as South Side took a 14-6 lead with about five minutes left in the first quarter. Pickett added a third touchdown from just outside the goal line for a 21-6 lead going into halftime.
Roosevelt opened the second half with a long drive that ended with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Carter to Isaiah Willock to make the score 21-12 with 4:38 left in the third. On Roosevelt's next possession, Carter rushed for a 17-yard touchdown to make the score 21-18 with 7:04 remaining. Roosevelt failed to convert on a two-point conversion rushing attempt.
The Cyclones were able to stave off the comeback attempt with a balanced offense and defense for the final 16 minutes.
South Side (2-0) came into the year with championship aspirations, and Roosevelt (0-2) provided a difficult test early in the season. Pickett said the team has significant momentum heading into next weekend.
“The win sure gives us a lot of confidence going into next week,” Pickett said. “But it is also a sense of pride because people didn't think we should’ve been the No. 2 seed going into the season. We are showing them we belong.”