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Can’t Take a Half Off, Football Players Told

Wed, 10/19/2022 - 11:14
Finn Byrnes, about to bring down the Harborfields quarterback, Shane Longin, above, was an offensive standout too, carrying 10 times and catching two passes in East Hampton’s 80-yard scoring drive, which he capped with a 5-yard touchdown plunge, in the third quarter.
Craig Macnaughton

The first half of Saturday morning’s high school football game here belonged to Harborfields, which led 28-0 at the halftime break.

But the second half was pretty much East Hampton’s, which led Joe McKee, Bonac’s head coach, to say after the 34-14 loss that while he was proud of his players he wondered why they hadn’t played with the same verve in the first half as they had in the second. Was it jitters? Nerves? A lack of confidence? It had to have been mental, he said, for in the second half, “just playing and having fun,” they had outplayed a 5-1 team, whose coach had made no changes to speak of.

“You can’t take a whole half off — you’ve got to play with more heart,” Jaron Greenidge, the junior varsity coach, added.

Play the first half of this Saturday’s Senior Day home game with Half Hollow Hills West like the second half that they’d just played, McKee and Greenidge urged.

Things decidedly did not go well for the Bonackers in the early going. After the opening kickoff, with the ball on the 20-yard line, Charlie Corwin’s first-down pass for Danny Lester was intercepted at midfield. Ten plays later, despite some good defensive plays by Pedro Alban, Adam Beckwith, and Finn Byrnes (about whom more later), the Tornadoes’ Michael Ferranti ran the ball into Bonac’s end zone from the 4-yard line. The quarterback Shane Longin’s point-after kick was good for a 7-0 Harborfields lead.

The second time East Hampton had the ball, Corwin was stripped of it after carrying for what would have been a first down at East Hampton’s 35. It took six plays for the visitors to go up by two touchdowns, a 2-yard pass from Longin to Ferranti capping the short drive.

The first quarter ended with the ball on East Hampton’s 48 thanks to a 14-yard carry by Longin, and when the second period began, back-to-back carries by Andrew White advanced it to East Hampton’s 11. Eddie Cobb, who stuffed White on his third attempt, and Thinley Edwards, who deflected a third-down pass intended for Sean Tucker in the end zone, made big defensive plays before Longin, with fourth-and-10 at the 11, threw a strike to Peter Johnston, a wide receiver. Combined with Longin’s point-after kick, that upped the visitors’ lead to 21-0.

An interception soon after by Tucker at East Hampton’s 29 keyed the Tornadoes’ fourth score, a 2-yard rush by White.

In the final minutes leading up to the break the Bonackers showed some life as Byrnes, whose best moments were yet to come, broke tackles on the way to a first down at the Harborfields 34 and as Corwin hit Danny Lester with a long pass at the 1-yard line as the clock ran out.

A flubbed would-be onside kick gave the visitors possession at East Hampton’s 49 when the third quarter began, but moments later Corwin’s interception of a third-down pass at the 20 drew cheers from the stands. An 18-play, 80-yard drive during which Byrnes carried the ball 10 times and caught two passes — presumably East Hampton’s longest sustained drive of the season

— was to ensue, much to the delight of Bonac’s fans.

An offsides call against the Tornadoes on fourth-and-three from their 13 was a boon, advancing the ball to a first-and-goal at the 8, after which, on successive plays, Eddie Cobb carried to the 5, and Byrnes, bulling his way forward, leapt into the end zone. Aryan Chugh kicked the extra point.

A 36-yard tackle-breaking scamper by Longin put the visitors up 34-7 with 10 minutes left to play, but the Bonackers replied with a 70-yard touchdown drive during which Byrnes, Cobb, and Jason Lester (who caught a 26-yard pass thrown to him by Danny Lester) made first downs.

Corwin overthrew Danny Lester in the end zone on second-and-goal from the visitors’ 6. He then threw twice over the middle for Will Darrell at the goal line, the second time being the charm.

The Bonackers continued to play hard in the final six minutes, forcing a Harborfields punt from midfield and mounting a drive from their 24 that might have ended in a touchdown had not a holding call erased what would have been a first down catch by Darrell close to the Tornadoes’ goal line.

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