Those old enough to remember ABC’s Wide World of Sports undoubtedly recall the late Jim McKay uttering the catchphrase phrase “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” set over a montage of sports clips during the Saturday afternoon show’s intro.
Well, last Saturday afternoon on the football field at Oceanside High, the Sailors experienced the joy the great Pelé felt while being carried off the soccer pitch on his teammates’ shoulders after a colossal win, while the stunned Massapequa Chiefs got a taste of what that Slovenian ski jumper was feeling as he wiped out on takeoff and spun out of control.
Charlie McKee’s 19-yard touchdown pass to senior Thomas Schmitt as time expired capped off an improbable 34-33 come-from-behind victory for Oceanside. The Sailors had trailed 33-21 with less than three minutes to play.
With his primary receiver covered, the sophomore signal-caller scrambled out of the pocket toward the left sideline and searched for an open man while Schmitt worked his way back to his quarterback. With two Chiefs bearing down on him, McKee put up a desperation heave that found Schmitt’s waiting hands in the left corner of the north end zone to set off a raucous celebration.
Despite nursing a shoulder injury that nearly kept him from playing, Schmitt caught 12 passes and scored a pair of touchdowns. He was the humble hero. “I looked back and saw he was running for his life,” Schmitt said. “I tried to get to a spot and give him a chance. He’s an amazing quarterback. It just went right into my hands. Unbelievable.”
The game-winning drive began on Oceanside’s 30 with just :32 remaining. The Chiefs, who fell to 6-2 in Conference I, were called for pass interference on consecutive plays to help the cause. McKee (35-for-50, 301 yards, and five touchdowns), who became the program’s all-time leader in passing yards in the opening half, was a perfect 5-for-5 on the drive.
Oceanside (6-2) appeared to be out of this one when senior running back Terence Gallivan scampered 62 yards for his fourth touchdown of the game with 5:22 to play to give the Chiefs a commanding 12-point lead. A second missed PAT would come back to haunt Massapequa.
After McKee hooked up with Thomas Flavin from 11 yards out to get the Sailors within 33-28 with 2:33 on the clock, the Sailors needed a stop. They got one. Senior Joe Ruggieri tackled Gallivan for a loss and forced the Chiefs to punt, setting the stage for the final drive.
Senior Nick Platia caught a pair of touchdown passes, and came up big on special teams. Flavin (64 yards) and Andres Duran (53 yards) led the rushing attack.
“It wasn’t how we drew it up, but we’ll take it,” Oceanside coach Rob Blount said. “Schmitty is one of our captains. He really toughed it out today. I couldn’t be happier for him”
Oceanside will host Port Washington in the opening round of the playoffs this Friday at 6 p.m.