Tyler Nason makes two TD catches in tough wind to help lift Connetquot
Tyler Nason turned the second half of a close Suffolk I football quarterfinal into his personal highlight reel Friday night, catching third-quarter touchdown passes of 40 and 44 yards and snaring two interceptions as Connetquot beat Longwood, 33-6, before a crowd of more than 1,700 in Bohemia.
The second-seeded T-Birds (8-1) will host Sachem North or Brentwood in a semifinal. Sachem North is the only team to beat Connetquot this season.
The T-Birds reeled off 33 unanswered points, including 27 in the second half to snap a 6-6 halftime tie.
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"I was getting behind the secondary, but the wind was tough," said Nason, who gained 90 yards on three receptions. "The coaches trusted Ricky [Hahn] to make some great throws in heavy wind."
Hahn was 8-for-13 passing for 169 yards.
Longwood took a 6-0 lead on a 4-yard run by Isaiah White (147 yards rushing, 29 carries) with 51 seconds left in the first quarter.
Connetquot used an 11-play, 63-yard march, all on the ground, to tie it, with Marcus Gutierrez punching it in from 4 yards with 5:16 left in the half.
"Longwood was stacking the box in the first half so we changed out of the two-back set and went back to our base offense with one back," Connetquot right guard Jimmy Oliver said. "And that opened things up."
The offensive line, led by center Josh Gutierrez, guards Oliver, Sean Moore and Kyle Johnson, and tackles D.J. Gallino and Rob Dawson, gave Marcus Gutierrez plenty of space in the second half. He rushed 39 times for 211 yards, including 106 after contact.
"He's so hard to bring down," coach Mike Hansen said. "He just keeps his legs moving and driving forward."
Hahn's 44-yard strike down the middle to Nason and Mike Grimaldi's two-point conversion run made it 14-6 with 5:28 left in the third quarter. With 24 seconds left in the third, Nason made a spectacular 40-yard TD reception against double coverage for a 21-6 lead.
"We need that dimension with Tyler Nason catching the ball," Gutierrez said. "When Nason runs the safety off, I get more yards up the middle. And when he goes off like he did tonight we're a different team. It adds another dimension to our offense."
Nason's two interceptions stymied two Longwood drives deep in T-Birds territory, including one pick in the end zone in which he was initially beaten on the play and recovered with excellent makeup speed.
"It was great to contribute," Nason said. "We've been running successfully all year, so it was nice to get the ball in the air, too."
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