It was a beautiful night for football as the Tigers took on Lindenhurst in the Division II County semifinal this past Friday, November 12.
The Tigers had the ball to start the game and moved the chains a few times but were forced to punt. A long drive by Lindenhurst lasted the rest of the first quarter, leaving the team with the ball on the 1-yard line. On the first play to start the second quarter, the Bulldogs punched in the end zone. The Northport special teams unit blocked the extra point and Lindy had a 6-0 lead.
The Tiger offense came up empty on the next drive and the defense returned to the field. On a fourth down play Danny Eagers snuffed out a screen pass and dropped the running back for a loss and a turnover on downs. With the ball back, and on third down, Owen Johansen hit a streaking Drew Miller for a 20-yard first down reception. Eagers ran 21 yards on first down, and followed it up with an 11-yard run. Johansen dropped back to pass but decided to make a break for the end zone and barreled over a Bulldog linebacker and across the goal line for a 7-yard touchdown run. The Tigers had a 7-6 lead heading into halftime.
The Bulldogs had the ball to start the half when, on third down, Patrick Sweeney got his hands on a pass attempt and broke up the play, forcing the Bulldogs to punt. The Tigers got the ball back deep in their own territory. A clutch third down run by Johansen kept the drive going. This run was followed up by a 33-yard scamper by Eagers, who broke multiple tackles and somehow stayed on his feet before finally getting dragged down. With the ball now on the Bulldogs’ 42-yard line, Johansen dropped back and threw a pass to Jack Helrigel who jumped up, blocked out the defender with his body and came down with the ball. He took it home for a touchdown and a 14-6 Tiger lead.
On defense, it would again be Patrick Sweeney who batted down another third down pass attempt to force a Bulldog punt. Back on offense, Danny Eagers took a handoff on first down for a 26-yard gain, and the Tigers were starting to control the line of scrimmage. Great blocks were made by Stelios Politidis, Luke Lamendola, Mason Hecht, John Locke, Andrew Canales and Max Brustmeyer.
On third down, Johansen hooked up with Drew Miller for a 31-yard reception to close out the third quarter. This drive fizzled out and the Tigers lined up for a field goal attempt from 34 yards out. A delay of game penalty pushed the Tigers back five yards out and they decided to go for it instead of kicking. Johansen took the snap, dropped back, saw JJ Ahlstrand open and stuck it right into his hands in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. The Tigers had a 20-6 lead early in the last quarter.
The Tiger defense forced another turnover on downs but there was still time left in the game. The offense came back and took very little time off of the clock, before Lindenhurst was able to get a touchdown and 2-point conversion to cut the Tiger lead to 20-14.
The Tiger offense again had trouble moving the ball and a penalty pushed them back deep into their own territory, forcing them to punt. The Bulldogs got the ball back near midfield, with three minutes still left on the clock. They brought the ball all the way down to the 1-yard line with 32 seconds left in the game. Bulldogs star running back Jake Trovato punched it in the end zone for a tie game.
The Tiger special teams unit was looking for another blocked attempt to keep it tied but kept going offsides. The Bulldogs now had the ball inside the 1-yard line and attempted the 2-point conversion and cashed in. The Tigers did not have enough time to score and suffered a heartbreaking loss, 22-20.
A note from John: I would like to thank everyone for reading my articles and giving me feedback and encouragement. I would also like to thank the players for being such fine outstanding young men and always taking my calls and answering the questions in good times and bad, as well as Coach Campbell. I decided to not interview anyone this week as it was a crushing loss. This team was very easy to root for and they certainly lived up to the mantra of “Class, Character and Commitment.”