T-Birds 17 Lindenhurst 3 (Newsday Live Blog from Game)

Posted Saturday, November 22, 2008 by Michael Konsevitch

It's the Suffolk Division I championship as No. 3 Connetquot takes on No. 4 Lindenhurst, which ended Floyd's 42-game winning streak last week in the semifinals. Both teams are 8-2.

1st Quarter

Jon Sternbach takes the opening kickoff from his own 1 to the 28 for Connetquot. It took just one play for Connetquot to score and they have struck quick in may games this season. Joe Zuco scored on a 72-yard run and Justin Bertone kicked the extra point. 7-0, Connetquot.

Lindenhurst starts at their own 29 and goes three-and-out. A run loses one yard and two incomplete passes as the T-Birds had excellent coverage on the receivers. Lindenhurst punts and the T-Birds start at their own 32. The T-Birds, like all season, continue to run the ball very well behind an excellent offensive line. How confident are the T-Birds in their running game? On fourth-and-2 from the Lindenhurst 43, they went for it Jeremy Leggiero gained 18 yards to the Bulldogs 25.

3:31: Connetquot's Ryan Andersen completed a six-yard pass to Sternbach to the Bulldogs 19... but it was on a 4th-and-10. Sternbach ran a sharp out route and created separation on the break (not too hard, since the secondary was playing off) and snared the pass with a lunge but it was short and the ball was turned over on downs. Still 7-0, T-Birds.

0:13: Lindenhurst has a first down at the Connetquot 43 after Joe Vespier's 12-yard run off right tackle + a 5-yard face mask call. Then Stephen Skon completed a 14-yard pass to Jon McGibbon that moved the ball to the 19 at the end of the quarter.

2nd Quarter

6:30: Skon converted a 4th & 1 from the 2-yard line with a QB sneak (just barely got it) but Lindy's four subsequent runs were stuffed. On 4th down, Vespier was tackled at the 1 off a toss play. There was an opening to the left, but it quickly closed. The T-Birds take over on downs after Lindenhurst's 18-play drive.

(Not very important but noteworthy: At 11:10 in the second quarter Vespier was dropped for no gain (at the 25) on 2nd-and-6 after taking the direct snap from a Wildcat-like formation. He went outside off left tackle but Connetquot sniffed it out and filled all the lanes.)

3:56: The Bulldogs defense got a three-and-out and the Connetquot punt was shanked, reaching only the 34-yard line, but linebacker John Smith intercepted Skon's pass on Lindenhurst's first play and returned it 13 yards.

2:13: McGibbon intercepted Anderson's pass along the left sideline to make up for the Lindenhurst turnover.

0:17: The teams are playing hot potato with the pigskin. Leggiero intercepted Skon and returned it to the 47, then, on the T-Birds' first play, Anderson fumbled on a QB keeper and the ball was scooped up by Lindenhurst's Fred Saporito... Lindenhurst, however, was unable to do anything with the drive as the half ended.

Halftime: 7-0, Connetquot
The first half was marred by sloppy play. Strong defense, too, but a lot of sloppy play. The teams went halfies on four turnovers (three interceptions and a fumble lost) and both squandered scoring opportunities. The most glaring - or noteworthy - was the Bulldogs' inability to punch it in from the 2-yard line in the second quarter. They'd driven the field with an 18-play drive, but stalled a couple feet from pay dirt (well, turf). After Skon's quarterback sneak to pick up the first down, three runs up the middle were stuffed, and then the toss off left tackle to Vespier was snuffed out. Connetquot has been inconsistent on offense as well. Their score came on Zuco's 72-yard early in the first quarter. He took the handoff and went off left tackle, cut outside to create space and sped to the end zone.

3rd Quarter
12:00: The Bulldogs get the ball to open the half and their offense will start at the 20 after K Justin Bertone's touchback on a line drive kickoff.

7:51: The T-Birds are moving. Their defense forced a three-and-out and, after five Zuco runs and one Leggiero carry (fullback dive on 4th & 1), they've got a first down at the Lindenhurst 21. The Bulldogs call timeout to regroup.

5:39: Field goal Connetquot. Bertone connected from 30 yards to cap the 10-play drive. Eight of those plays went to Zuco. Apologies for the upcoming corny line, but I couldn't help it: You haven't heard the name Zuco called that many times in such a short span since "Greece." [rim shot] 10-0, Connetquot.

1:08: After a 12-yard run by Vespier to convert a 4th & 2 (he took the handoff from the I-Formation and sprinted around right tackle untouched), Lindenhurst has a first down at the Connetquot 32.

0:00: A five-yard face mask call extended the quarter (an untimed down allowed a 2nd & 7 play with no time on the clock), but Bulldogs' Joe Granata fumbled at the 20 on a run up the middle. Connetquot takes over to start the fourth quarter.

4th Quarter
9:39: Lindenhurst was able to overcome the turnover, forcing a three-and-out. The punt, which was almost blocked, went just 22 yards and the Bulldogs offense will start at the Connetquot 49.

9:26: Ryan Derham caught a 36-yard pass from Skon on first down, setting Lindenhurst up at the 13. Derham ran an intermediate dig route and was left wide open over the middle about 8 yards down field. Skon hit him and he manuevered toward and then up the right sideline for yards after the catch. In what's been a fast-moving game dominated by the defenses, Lindenhurst almost needs to score here.

6:54: Field goal Lindenhurst. Kevin Hartley hit from 28 yards out to get the Bulldogs on the board. On 3rd & 13, Skon scrambled up the middle for five yards, setting up the kick. 10-3, Connetquot.

3:53: Zuco, who's gotten to T-Birds offense to the Bulldogs 29, fumbled but was able to recover his own drop and keep possession for the T-Birds as they milk the clock.

2:30: Timeout Lindenhurst with Connetquot at the 11 and facing a third & 2.

2:29: Touchdown Connetquot. Zuco scored from 11 yards out to ice the game. He ran off right tackle and jogged into the end zone untouched. The drive went 80 yards on nine plays. 17-3, Connetquot.

2:15: Leggiero intercepts a pass over the middle and runs it back to the 16 for Connetquot. And the crowd at Stony Brook (the T-Bird fans are getting boisterous) begin celebrating.

Final: 17-3, Connetquot. The T-Birds win their first Suffolk championship since 1994 and they'll face Freeport at 12 p.m. at Hofstra on Friday.