One by one, the Floyd players came off the field, victims of cramping that coach Paul Longo said forced him to send out several offensive players to fill in on defense in the final minutes. That’s when senior linebacker Danny Torres recognized the urgency of the situation.
“Some guys were out and I had to be the one to step up and finish the game for us,” said Torres. “There were some reads to make, but I knew I had the green light to blitz.” He sacked Longwood’s Jordan Harris twice in the final, desperate sequence, as Floyd held on for a 23-18 home victory Saturday in the Suffolk I opener for both teams.
This annual matchup of long-time rivals is known as the Parkway Bowl because the teams are just 10 miles apart on the William Floyd Parkway. But Saturday, the 5-10, 185-poundTorres appeared to have the express lane all to himself.
He had four sacks and made an interception to set up the Colonials’ first touchdown. He also harassed Harris into an intentional grounding late in the second quarter that resulted in a safety.
“He’s amazing. Not the biggest kid. Not the fastest kid. But he is a tough, smart player who is always in the right spot,” Longo said. “He had a huge interception in the county championship game last year (won by Floyd.) All he does is make big plays.”
There were big plays all around, making for an entertaining opener in front of a full house in Mastic Beach. Torres broke through to pick off an attempted option-pitch by Harris, setting up Nick Silva’s 5-yard scoring run in the first quarter. After the Lions made it 7-6 on the first of two touchdown runs by Jake Murphy, Brandon Zach returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a 14-6 Floyd lead.
The Lions had an answer for that when Harris cleverly faked a middle screen then dumped off a screen to the right side that Courie Bradley took 61 yards for a touchdown, hurdling a Colonials’ defender to escape a tackle near midfield.
Longwood got the ball back deep in its own territory on an interception by Christian Reuthenbuck, but on second-and-11 from the 12, Harris was flushed from the pocket and ultimately chased down by Torres in the end zone. Harris’s desperate throwaway to avoid the safety was first ruled a fumble and touchdown for Torres, who recovered in the end zone. But after an officials’ conference, the call was reversed and the intentional grounding ruling gave Floyd two points instead of seven.
However, that call wound up benefiting the Colonials because they got good field position after the free kick and made it nine points instead of seven on the sequence, scoring on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Rob Taiani to Jordan Clinton, who made a one-handed grab on the run before tucking it to finish the play with 29.7 seconds left in the first half. That gave Floyd a 23-12 lead.
The Lions made it 23-18 on Murphy’s 9-yard run that capped a clock-killing, 11-play, 80-yard drive late in the third quarter. Silva killed off some precious minutes himself late in the fourth quarter with four big runs, but Floyd ultimately turned it over on downs at the Longwood 30 with 1:45 left.
That’s when Torres’ sacks put a definite crimp in the Lions’ comeback.