Syosset's QB #2 Daniel Ventricelli fires a pass while being...

Syosset's QB #2 Daniel Ventricelli fires a pass while being pressured. (Nov. 6, 2010) Credit: Joe Rogate

The perch from the top of the Nassau record book gives Daniel Ventricelli a great survey of opposing defenses.

When the Syosset quarterback was asked why he hadn't been the Braves' starter until two weeks ago, he quipped: "Quite frankly, I couldn't see over the line."

Ventricelli could have been blindfolded yesterday and still found James Cohan, the quarterback's favorite target.

The 5-7, 145-pound senior quarterback was 12-for-18 for 236 yards and tied a Nassau playoff record held by four other players with five touchdown passes in No. 5 Syosset's 44-10 win at No. 4 East Meadow in the first round of the Nassau Conference I playoffs. Syosset will play top-seeded Freeport on Thursday at Hofstra in the county semis.

Cohan caught seven passes for 182 yards. He also tied a Nassau record with four TD receptions. "For me, this has never happened," Cohan said. "We just ran them off on the outside and made touchdowns."

Cohan, who is listed at 5-6, 145 pounds, generally sees more time at defensive back than receiver. He hadn't caught a touchdown pass since Labor Day, when his overtime catch beat Uniondale.

Syosset's game plan from the get-go was to go deep. Ventricelli hit Cohan for TD passes of 26 and 48 yards, and Chris Park for a 24-yarder before Joe Morris' 3-yard scoring run gave the Braves (5-4) a 24-0 first-quarter lead. They failed on all four two-point tries.

Three of the touchdowns came off turnovers, as Tom Koziatek recovered a fumble and Brett Resnick intercepted back-to-back East Meadow passes.

Syosset forced the Jets (5-4) into four turnovers in their 19-14 win last week on the same field, so ball security was a point of emphasis for Jets coach Vinny Mascia all week.

"We said if we can eliminate the turnovers and the penalties we can play football with them," Mascia said. "But we went out and turned the ball over on our first three series."

Adam Suchocki's fumble recovery on the Syosset 2-yard line led to the Jets' only touchdown - a 2-yard plunge by Sean Hinchy. But two plays into the ensuing drive, Morris, who finished with 93 yards on 10 carries, took a handoff around left end 56 yards to give Syosset a 31-7 lead 7:16 before halftime.

After Hector Guerrero's 32-yard field goal made it 31-10, Ventricelli found Cohan for a 37-yard TD strike on a streak down the left sideline to give the Braves a season-high 38 points with 1:26 left before the half.

"At points this season our offense hasn't clicked but we knew we were capable of doing such things," Syosset coach Paul Rorke said. "It came at the right time."

The only points of the second half were - what else - a 19-yard pass from Ventricelli to Cohan.

Said Ventricelli: "We didn't expect it to come this easy."

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months