Senior quarterback William Pickett and Richie Petrone made sure South Side remained perfect.
In a game that lived up to the hype, Pickett threw two touchdown passes and rushed for two more, including the game-winning scamper in the final seconds, and Petrone had two interceptions and a key catch on the decisive drive that helped the Cyclones edge Wantagh, 27-24, in last Friday night’s Nassau Conference III football showdown.
Despite allowing a season high in points, South Side improved to 5-0 and remained tied with Plainedge atop the standings.
“It was a great team win,” South Side head coach Phil Onesto said. “We said all week [that] we don’t need superstars on this team, just everybody doing their job and we’re going to win this game.”
Nick Teresky had two touchdown runs for Wantagh (3-2), which slipped into a five-way tie for fourth. “We gave up a couple of big plays defensively,” Warriors head coach Keith Sachs said. “I think we physically played well, we moved the ball well, [but] the kid made the play in the end.”
Trailing by three in the fourth quarter, the Warriors put together a nine-play drive capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by Teresky with 4:20 left that gave Wantagh a 24-20 lead. Teresky had a key four-yard run on a third-and-3 play near midfield during the drive.
But that was too much time for the Cyclone offense. Pickett ran for 11 yards on the first play and connected with Nick Licalzi on a seven-yard pass before an incomplete pass and a Pickett three-yard run set up a do-or-die 4th-and-inches play from the Wantagh 44 with 2:31 remaining.
From the shotgun, Pickett juked for four yards up the middle to keep the drive alive. After a 13-yard pass to Petrone, South Side faced another dilemma when a holding penalty put them back to the Warrior 42. But Pickett runs of eight and seven yards sandwiched around a 12-yard pass to T.J. Maher put the Cyclones at the Wantagh 15 with less than a minute left.
Pickett then found Ezavier Brewster at the right sideline for 11 yards before weaving his way into the end zone from four yards out with 10 seconds left to send the crowd into a frenzy.
“I had full confidence in our team that we were going to drive down the field in that amount of time and score,” Pickett said. “I had no doubt in my mind that were going to at least get into a position to score the game-winning touchdown.”
Pickett rushed for 113 yards on 23 carries and completed 12-of-15 passes for 173 yards. Petrone caught three passes for 73 yards on his birthday.
South Side opened the scoring late in the first quarter on Pickett’s three-yard toss to Licalzi, but Wantagh on Teresky’s 12-yard run in the second. The Warriors took the lead early in the third on Ryan Carlo’s 24-yard touchdown grab, but the Cyclones answered with Pickett’s 27-yard scoring strike to Brady West. The ensuing extra point was missed, so Michael Coney’s 43-yard field goal early in the fourth pushed Wantagh’s lead to 17-13
Petrone’s 50-yard reception to the Warrior 15 set up Pickett’s six-yard touchdown run that gave South side a 20-17 lead with eight minutes left.