align="center">Two-point gamble pays off for Thunderbirds
By Gregg Sarra
October 21, 2007
It was a change of heart and it resulted in a big win. Connetquot fullback James Tripodi scored on a 5-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-goal run to pull the Thunderbirds within one with 17 seconds left in a Suffolk Division I football game against Sachem East yesterday. Connetquot coach Mike Hansen sent the kicking unit onto the field to try and tie the score and force overtime.
"I called for the kick team," Hansen said. "And then I changed my mind. We had a big momentum swing at that point and I thought we could get the two-point conversion. I trust our offensive line and I wanted to give my seniors in the backfield a shot at the win."
Hansen called for a toss and just before the play started Sachem East called a timeout. The timing would cost Sachem East. Hansen realizing that the defense would have stopped the toss, changed the backfield and the play.
"They had us outflanked," Hansen said. "The play wouldn't have worked."
The Thunderbirds went to a fake toss and dive. The line got a good push and fullback Doug Smiroldo found the end zone for the conversion and a 21-20 victory.
Junior halfback Chris Dale keyed the touchdown drive when he returned a kickoff 50 yards with 3:30 left to set up the 10-play, 48-yard drive.
Sachem East (2-4), playing without starting quarterback Chris Agerenza, who was knocked out of the game in the first quarter after a hard hit, scored three straight touchdowns to take a 20-13 lead. Backup quarterback Joe Botti threw a 40-yard touchdown strike to Dom Coppola for the seven-point lead. Agerenza was taken to the hospital where his father said he was diagnosed with a concussion.
"We bounced back from two very tough losses," Hansen said. "I'm proud of our guys - they've had some bad breaks and showed real character in this game."
Tripodi ran for 88 yards and two scores on 18 carries. End Steve Cluen had eight tackles and two sacks and Alex Lorenzo had eight tackles and a sack.