East Meadow comeback bid falls short


East Meadow and Massapequa traded scoring punches from the opening drive of last Saturday’s Conference I football battle combining for 88 points, but it was the Chiefs defense that managed to make the one big play in the closing seconds of a 48-40 victory.

On fourth down, junior quarterback Adam Arbuse delivered the ball to tight end Chika Ewulu, but the senior had it knocked loose by a jarring hit from Massapequa defensive back Jack Korber, who arrived a split second after Ewulu appeared to corral it and keep the drive alive.

The loss dropped the Jets to 0-2 heading into this Saturday’s road game against Valley Stream Central at 1:30 p.m.

“When the time came to make a big play we broke down,” Jets head coach Vin Mascia said of his team, which scored 34 of its points in the first half. “But the kids played hard today. I don’t think anyone gave us a chance without [Billy] Andrle.”

Despite the absence of Andrle, a running back and linebacker who’s the reigning Thorp Award winner as the best player in Nassau County, for each of the first two games because of injury East Meadow still managed to pound out more than 400 yards of total offense, with a three-headed running attack keyed by seniors Bobby Bender (154 yards rushing), Nick Suchocki (two touchdowns) and junior John Wilson (two). “They did a great job and our offensive line did a great job,” Mascia said.

The Jets needed just four plays to advance to the Massapequa 12 in the final minute of the fourth quarter, getting runs of seven, 28 and 10 yards from Suchocki sandwiched around a five-yard scamper from senior wingback Bobby Bender. It was the team’s only drive into the red zone in the quarter after two previous drives ended with three plays and a punt.

Much of the game’s fireworks occurred in the second quarter, with East Meadow scoring four touchdowns and outscoring the Chiefs 27-14 in the frame. Wilson scored both of his touchdowns from one yard out in the quarter, the second with just eight second left in the half. That score came after Suchocki picked off a Massapequa pass at midfield and returned it 49 yards. It was one of the few mistakes by Chiefs’ quarterback Matt Caracappa, who completed 17 of his 25 attempts for 222 yards and four touchdowns.

“Their quarterback had some wide open receivers and he took advantage of them,” Mascia said.

Suchocki was full of big plays in the loss, finding the end zone on runs of 30 yards in the first quarter and 42 in the second, on top of the near-touchdown on the interception return, though the open spaces were tougher to come by for the entire East Meadow offense in the second half. The Jets managed just six points over the final 24 minutes. “They changed their front from a 6-2 to a 4-3-2 deep,” Mascia said. “We made a couple of mistakes at certain times with things were capable of doing and didn’t.”