Oct 05, 2012
By Rob Abruzzese
It was just a simple ball that touched the ground in practice, but it made the Hewlett Bulldogs head coach Jay Iaquinta realize that his team hadn’t turned the ball over once all season and it got him thinking.
“I saw that ball hit the ground and the coaches and I noticed that hadn’t happened to us all year,” Iaquinta said. “Not one interception, not one turnover, and we thought that’s probably a big reason why we are 3-0.
“We had one today and it it was a big one.”
The big one cost the Bulldogs their chance at mounting what could have been an impressive second half comeback as they eventually went on to lose their first game of the season, 35-14 to the Plainedge Red Devils at home during Homecoming last Saturday.
Just as they had done in each of their first three games, the Bulldogs fell behind 7-0 on the first drive of the game. That deficit wouldn’t last though as quarterback Zach Richman scored on an eight-yard run to tie the game up at 7-7 on the Bulldogs first attempt on offense.
Unlike their first three games though, the Plainedge’s offense never let up. The Red Devils wore the Bulldogs down with a relentless ground attack led by junior Gianfranco Soriente, who finished with 34 carries for 184 yards and three touchdowns.
Soriente scored his first touchdown at the end of the first quarter, an eight-yard run that put the Red Devils up 13-7. His next score came on an 18-yard run that put the Bulldogs down 21-7 early in the second quarter.
Richman answered back with a 12-yard rushing touchdown, breaking a tackle with an impressive spin move, to bring the score to 21-14. The Bulldogs were still down, but after three consecutive come from behind victories so far this season they felt that there was still plenty of time for a comeback.
“Every game including Bethpage we went down so at that time I don’t think any of us were worried,” Richman explained. “I thought that was a big drive for us though and I expected it would help us rally.”
From that point on the pace of the game changed in favor of Plainedge though. Hewlett was able to slow down it’s running game, but even on drives where the Red Devils didn’t score they were able to burn precious minutes off the clock.
Finally, late in the third quarter, Plainedge’s Soriente broke through for his third touchdown of the game that made it 28-14. Hewlett was running out of time to mount it’s comeback.
“We didn’t have the ball that much,” Iaquinta said. “When you don’t get the ball consistently, we only had the ball once every 12 minutes, it’s hard to make plays.”
Hewlett started at the 30-yard-line on the next drive and the seriousness of the situation was on everyone’s face as the Bulldogs marched down the field. Quickly it was first-and-goal, then second-and-goal, third-and-goal and then it happened — sophomore running back Jeremy Leguillow dropped the ball.
“Jeremy is a great, young player who just loves the game of football and works really hard at it,” Iaquinta said. “He was just trying to make a great play and lost the ball.”
Hewlett never had another big drive in them after that and already trailing 28-14, the Red Devils eventually added another score to go up 35-14. The one silver lining in the fourth quarter may have been that they were finally able to keep Soriente out of the end zone, but ultimately that wouldn’t matter much.
It was a tough loss especially since it happened with a 3-0 record at Homecoming.
“This might have been a different game if it weren’t Homecoming,” Iaquinta said. “We were a little bit too excited. We always try to keep that even keel and that’s why I don’t like Homecoming in our place. Too many distractions. Anytime anything is different it’s not good. I like normalcy.”
Homecoming or not, Iaquinta now wants to see what his team is made of. He explained that it’s hard to learn much from a team that is 3-0, but by Monday in practice he’ll be able to tell a lot more about who is ready to move on and get better and who isn’t.
“We knew they were a great team coming in,” Richman said. “Everyone was picking them, not picking us. So it’s not a big surprise that we lost this one. We certainly wanted it, but now we’ll really see who has that drive to win.”
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