Written by Vinny Messana Friday, 30 November 2012 00:00
With the season hanging in the balance, a raucous crowd on both sides and Wantagh attempting to score after converting a crucial third down, Spencer Bais made an incredible grab for an interception to seal the 21-17 win for the Garden City Trojans.
“He’s a great athlete,” said Head Coach Tom Flatley regarding Bais. “He’s a first-year player, he has always played basketball, but it was huge play for him to catch that ball.”
Being a first-year player, Bais is a new contributor to the incredible run of success for the Garden City Trojans and its football program, which has made the team into a perennial county powerhouse. It was the district’s fourth consecutive Nassau County title—including their second straight against Wantagh—and it will advance to play Riverhead for the Long Island Championship on December 1 at Stony Brook.
The Trojans had a tall order of coming back from a three-point deficit as the second half began. The Wantagh Warriors built a 10-7 lead thanks to the incredible performance of Wantagh’s Brandon Watson.
He made an impact of both sides of the ball as he intercepted two passes—narrowly missing a third—on defense, while catching a pass for a touchdown on offense.
In the second half, the Garden City defense rose to the occasion as they made a number of crucial plays to prevent the Warriors from scoring.
Late in the third quarter, Trojan’s QB Brett Stewart completed a screen pass to Scott D’Antonio that was executed perfectly and enabled D’Antonio to elude the defense for the 46-yard TD and put the Trojans to within three.
“Brett is a tough athlete,” said Flatley. “He shook off the early interceptions and made plays when he had to.”
Before the fans were able to find their seats, the ensuing kickoff was fumbled by the Warriors right near the sidelines and recovered by Brian Colamussi of the Trojans.
The Trojans created that turnover into points, as they put together an efficient drive. After a holding call, short running gain of two and incompletion, the Trojans faced a tough third down and 18. Quarterback Brett Stewart displayed his incredible poise and composure as he sat in the pocket and delivered a 24-yard strike to extend the drive.
While it may have gotten forgotten because it was not a scoring play, that 24-yard reception was a huge conversion for the Trojans.
Following a short four-yard reception by Kyle Shramko, Justin Guterding scampered into the end zone from 11 yards out to give the Trojans the 21-17 lead.
The Warriors began their next drive at their own 35-yard line after a short kickoff return. On third down their QB Gerard Roach threw an interception that put the Trojans in control.
While it appeared that this pick could have been enough to end the game, the Trojans committed their own turnover that temporarily rejuvenated the Warriors.
Stewart threw his third interception of the game on third down, which was a bit of a perplexing play call given their ability to run the ball and the game clock dwindling.
Nevertheless, the Warriors began their drive with one timeout remaining, and 75 yards to go in order to complete the upset of the No. 1 ranked Trojans.
On third down and 12 yards to go, the handoff was given to Watson who appeared ready to throw a lateral to Roach. As the defense took the bait, however, he tucked the ball and barreled to the first down marker, eluding a tackle in the process.
The Wantagh crowd erupted as they were now within striking distance of taking the lead. The excited quickly shifted gears, as the next play was the turning point as Bais intercepted the pass to seal the deal for the Trojans.
Garden City played an incredibly gutsy second half, displaying resiliency and the ability to contain Watson, who torched Nassau County defenses all year for nine touchdowns. He finished the game with 65 yards rushing and 85 yards receiving. They also limited Roach to one touchdown, after he had thrown 13 on the season.
For head coach Flatley, it is yet another dominating season as they enter the Long Island Championship with a 10-1 record. He won his 18th Nassau County Championship and will be looking for his fifth Long Island Championship—the last one occurring in 2009 over upcoming opponent Riverhead.