Only in fits and spurts was Freeport able to get its vaunted spread offense untracked Friday.
The Red Devils spent much of the game starving for points because Connetquot was chewing up the clock with Joe Zuco eating up yardage.
"We missed too many opportunities," Freeport coach Russ Cellan said after a 21-13 loss Friday at Hofstra in the Class I Long Island Championship. "In a game like this, you can't afford for that to happen. But we made mistakes trying to make plays."
Most of that play-making was by quarterback Erick Lapice. While he struggled passing (5-for-17, 62 yards, one interception), the elusive senior improvised nicely for 79 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown.
He threw a strike to Ashanti Foster-Felder on the second play of the second quarter for an 11-yard TD pass that gave Freeport its only lead. The Red Devils couldn't solve Connetquot's forceful, hard-tackling defense until late in the fourth quarter when they marched 73 yards in 14 plays to score on Lapice's 1-yard run with just 0:53 to play. The on-sides kick failed and Freeport finished 10-2.
"They threw a little bit of an odd front at us [on defense] but we practiced against it and it wasn't a huge surprise," Cellan said. "They just made big plays up front and they are very physical."
The T-birds held Freeport, which averaged 34 points a game, to its second-lowest scoring total of the season. "This had nothing to do with luck," Cellan said. "They got it done and we didn't."
Freeport, more of a finesse team than Connetquot, couldn't handle the T-birds' offensive line, which allowed Zuco to gain 148 yards. "They had some big plays," Cellan said. "We knew they'd run. That's their game. We expected it. But they ran hard and we couldn't stop them."
Considering that his team started the season as a No. 6 seed, this was one of Cellan's best coaching jobs. "I'm very proud of these kids," the coach said. But as for feeling that the season was a success with a Nassau title but no LIC, Cellan elected to defer.
"I'll probably feel good about this later," Cellan said with a forced grin.