The short, high kick, delivered from the MacArthur end zone, went about 30 yards and bounced on the turf. Carey punt returner Tyler DeMeo was expecting the hear shouts of “poison, poison” — the commonly used buzzword that warns players to stay away from the ball and let it roll dead. But DeMeo heard nothing, so he decided to do something.
“I saw the punt coming up a little short and there was no ‘poison’ call,” DeMeo said of the third-quarter sequence. “It took a nice bounce and I got it on the run. There was a nice block from my teammate that opened up the field.” The Seahawks’ elusive 5-8, 150-pound senior proceeded to deliver his version of a poison pill to defending Nassau II champion MacArthur, scampering 30 yards for a touchdown that launched Carey to a 34-21 victory in yesterday’s season opener played before a full house at Carey.
That was one of four key plays that produced three touchdowns in 3:03 and allowed Carey to break open what had been a 14-7 defensive struggle at halftime. “That return was huge,” Carey coach Mike Stanley said.
So was a punt by Dominic Scorcia that bounced out at the MacArthur 1 after a 51-yard journey, and led to the end-zone punt that DeMeo devoured for a 21-7 lead. So was DeMeo’s catch of a deep throw by Dan Conte (11-for-24, 106 yards, three touchdowns) that covered 38 yards and set up Conte’s scoring pass to Joe Randazzo. And so was Scorcia’s hit that forced a fumble in the end zone, recovered by Carey’s Mike Moriates.
“After my return, I felt the momentum come to us,” DeMeo said. Of his only reception, he added with a wry grin, “I dropped two big passes earlier in the game. I felt bad because Dan had put them in good spots. But you have to have a short-term memory. I thought the last catch made up for it.”
Earlier, when Carey’s offense struggled, it was its defense that stalled the Generals. Zach Dente recovered two fumbles on consecutive possessions in the first quarter, made six tackles, put constant pressure on MacArthur quarterback Kyle Acquavella (9-for-26, 105 yards) and was right there when Moriates recovered his fumble in the end zone. “I almost had three,” Dente said. “We knew they were a little inexperienced on offense and we tried to take advantage. On the boot plays, my job was to contain the quarterback and then follow him.”
Stanley said that Dente, a two-year starter, is a much improved middle linebacker. “Last year, he learned the position. This year he’s embraced it,” the coach said. “He was all over the place today.”
MacArthur made things interesting in the fourth quarter. A 1-yard run by Sean Looney and a 6-yard TD run by Benny Orlando cut the deficit to 13 points, and the Generals got to the Carey 24 on a 25-yard pass from Acquavella to Pedro Hernandez with a minute to go. But the Seahawks held.
“We knew the defense was the strength of our team,” Stanley said. “I don’t know what we are on offense yet and I didn’t learn it today. We were exhausted at the end, but we hung on. Both teams made a ton of mistakes and played like it was Week 1.”