What’s better than a shutout for a defensive unit? Well, nothing.
Wantagh middle linebacker Sean Colbert summed it up best after the Warriors blanked Roosevelt, 28-0, on Friday night before a crowd of more than 800 in a Nassau III football game.
“It’s about pride,” Colbert said. “We tackled well as a team and we forced some turnovers. There was no way we were giving up the shutout in the final minutes.”
Roosevelt (2-1) drove to the Warriors’ 28 before quarterback Stephen Vailes threw four straight incomplete passes to end it. Wantagh (3-0) remained unbeaten and recorded its second straight shutout after yielding a late touchdown to Plainedge in a season-opening blowout win.
The Wantagh defense shut down the Rough Riders’ first drive and forced a short punt to set up the first score. Halfback Tom Rohan plunged in from a yard out to cap a seven-play, 40-yard drive for a 7-0 lead with 6:36 left in the first quarter.
The Warriors capitalized on the first of three Roosevelt turnovers for the next score. Vailes’ pass over the middle was deflected by Colbert and intercepted by a diving Jimmy Joyce at the Wantagh 27.
“I dropped back and just got my right hand on it,” Colbert said. “And Jimmy made a play on it.”
The Warriors extended the lead when junior quarterback Jake Castellano hit Joyce with a 26-yard touchdown pass with 10:04 left in the half. Joyce broke inside the defensive back on a corner-post pattern and Castellano hit him in stride for the score. Mike Piergiovanni added the kick to make it 14-0.
“He put it out in front of me and I had to go get it,” Joyce said. “It was perfectly thrown where only I could catch it, good placement. We’ve been working a lot on timing and running crisp routes.”
The drive lasted 10 plays and went 73 yards to consume 5:13 of the clock.
“We were moving the ball on the ground,” Wantagh coach Keith Sachs said. “And that opened it up for the big pass play.”
The Wantagh defense forced two more second quarter turnovers to stall the Rough Riders’ offense.
Vailes had the Rough Riders on the move behind some hard running from Corey Bull, who carried three times for 26 yards, to the Warriors’ 36. Vailes then hit wide receiver Farrakhan Anderson at the Warriors’ 5 with a 31-yard pass but Rohan stripped Anderson and Wantagh’s Devin Kennedy recovered the fumble in the end zone. Bull finished with 70 yards on 14 carries.
Wantagh defensive back Anthony D’Onofrio added an interception just before the half.
Wantagh added Gavin Casey’s 8-yard scoring run in the third quarter and Joyce caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Castellano in the fourth to seal the win.
The defense allowed only 173 yards total offense, led by Colbert and tackle Joe Valenti, who had 11 tackles, including three for a loss and two sacks.