Garden City Trojans remain undefeated as they defeat Long Beach 20-18 on a cold and blustery night in Long Beach.
Garden City traveled to Long Beach’s
Veteran Field on Friday night for Long Island’s version of Friday Night Lights.
The game was a battle of undefeated teams seeking sole possession of the top
spot in Nassau County Conference 2. And the
game lived up to the promise as the Trojan’s defeated Long Beach 20-18 in a
game that came down to the last play.
With only six seconds left in the
game and the Marines lined up for the game tying two point conversion, it was
the team gang tackling of Garden City that held the line. It was the third time in the game that the
Trojans defense stood up to the powerful Long Beach offensive line and stopped
a two point conversion.
The Marines have played some
dominating football with their closest margin of victory being 21 points. On the season Long Beach had averaged a
little better than 37 points per game while only giving up 11 points. Playing in tight games
prepared Garden City for the heart of their schedule as the Trojans have
utilized a number of two way players to dominate both sides of the ball.
The Trojans were coming off a tough
win at home against neighboring rival Carey, while Long Beach rolled into the
game after a dominating road win over New Hyde Park.
This game was going to be a dog
fight and Coach Tom Flatley knew going into the game that his Trojans would
be facing a much bigger Long Beach squad on both lines but he felt his team’s commitment
to their game plan had them in good position for the matchup.
The game didn’t start out the way
Flatley or the Garden City coaches drew up the game plan as the opening kickoff
was fumbled after a hard hit at the twenty five yard line that was recovered by Long
Beach's Eric Zeppa. With the high scoring Marines taking the field with QB Adam Salvadori
and dangerous running back J.T. Forkin in great field position it looked like
Garden City was going to be playing catchup. But the Trojans defense held strong and
quickly got the ball back.
However after Garden City couldn’t move
the ball themselves Long Beach was able to piece together a drive that was
capped off by a 22 yard open field run by Forkin as he was able to escape several
tackles as he danced into the end zone. The score gave Long Beach a 6-0 lead at
the end of the first quarter after the conversion was stopped.
In the second quarter each team had
a couple of possessions but both teams struggled to string together big plays.
Long Beach quarterback Salvadori hit a quick pass and Forkin and Chris
Parler had nice runs but the Trojan defense held when they had to. The big play
was a break up of a long pass by James Sullivan.
On the Trojan side of the ball, quarterback Brett
Stewart had his team moving with their first possession of the quarter but they
were stopped on a fourth and inches at the 14 yard line. The key play in the
drive was a long pass and run by Justin Guterding along the Trojan
Once again it was the Garden City
defense coming up big as Salvadori dropped back to pass and tried to hit Parler
across the middle. But the Trojan DB’s
converged on the pass and the deflected ball was picked off by junior Danny
With good field position the
Trojans struck quickly as Stewart had the Marines defense looking pass all the
way and handed off to Scott D’Antonio around the left end. And with key blocks sealing off the defensive
line, D’Antonio took the play to the house for the score. With Gerard Smith’s kick the Trojans had the
lead 7-6, which held up until halftime.
Halftime is the point in the game
where good teams can become great teams because of adjustments made by their
coaching staff and both of these teams have proven to be very effective coming
out of the locker room. Garden City
punctuated that theory with a fantastic opening drive highlighted by a couple
of huge runs by Stewart and D’Antonio and ending with a nice fade pattern to Ed
Blatz in the corner of the end zone for the 5 yard touchdown. Once again Smith added the PAT and the
Trojans had a 14-6 lead that carried into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter was one that had
about as much excitement and drama of an episode of Friday Night Lights
it was Friday night at the fights! The first
punch was thrown by Long Beach as they battled back with strong runs by
Salvadori and Forkin to get the Marines into field position. Then from 38 yards out Forkin took the ball
and worked his magic by weaving through several missed tackles to take the
ball across the goal line for the score.
Garden City once again stopped the two point conversion keeping the
score at 14-12.
Then it was Garden City’s turn to apply
the pressure with D’Antonio taking the ensuing kickoff and returning it almost to the fifty. After Tim McDonagh recovered
his own fumble on a short gain it was back to D’Antonio who took a quick step
to his left and was in the secondary in a flash on his way to a 51 yard
touchdown run. The run looked to seal
the game with only a little more than 6 minutes remaining but Smith’s first
missed PAT of the season gave Long Beach hope.
The Trojan defense held Long Beach
on their next possession and forced a punt with just over 3 minutes left in the
game. Stewart then took the first play from scrimmage 74 yards before finally
being brought down at the six. The tackle
looked like it would only delay the inevitable but the Marine defense stood
tall and held the Trojan’s on out the endzone. And when Smith’s field goal attempt into the strong
wind was wide left the Mariners had one last chance.
The final drive had several key
plays as Long Beach converted on a third and long pass to Parler. Then
Salvadori took off around right end for a big gain into Trojan territory and
with under a minute Salvadori ran a quarterback draw up the middle that brought
the ball inside the 10. With the clock
ticking down and no timeouts remaining the Marines had a fourth and goal at the
three. And with the Long Beach crowd in
a frenzy coach Scott Martin made a gutsy call for a pass into the end zone. The
call caught Garden City off guard and Parler was open across the middle and
made the grab for the three yard touchdown pass with six seconds remaining.
Long Beach was 2 yards and six seconds
away from sending the game to overtime. But Garden City had other plans as they
stacked the line and stuffed Forkin on the attempt. The Trojans had held off a frantic attack by
Long Beach in the second half and remained undefeated on the season.
As his team came to the sideline
after the failed PAT coach Martin was out on the field patting each player on
the back encouraging them to hold their heads up high as both teams played
For Garden City coach Flatley it
was another one to mark down in his storied career as his team won a game in
which the opposing team ran almost twice as many plays and outgained as his
Trojan offense by a fair margin.
The next two weeks look to be as exciting as this game
for both Long Beach and Garden City. Next up for both are a pair of teams that
only have one loss each in Wantagh and MacArthur. Garden City (6-0) plays a Homecoming game
against Wantagh (5-1) next week. Passing
Brett Stewart (QB) 4/10 for 49 yards, 1 TD
Adam Salvadori 5/18 for 57 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int
Ed Blatz 2 receptions for 15 yards, 1 TD
Justin Guterding 2 receptions for 34 yards
J.T. Forkin 1 receptions for 23 yards
Chris Parler 3 receptions for 30 yards, 1 TD
Jake Brown 1 receptions for 4 yards
Scott D'Antonio 7 attempts for 134 yards, 2 TDs
Brett Stewart (QB) 10 attempts for 98 yards
Tim McDonagh 7 attempts for 45 yards
Danny Miller 1 attempt for 7 yards
JT Forkin 31 attempts for 188 yards, 2 TDs
Adam Salvadori 11 attempts for 79 yards
Chris Parler 4 attempts for 16 yards