Midway through the second quarter of their 42-26 victory over Long Beach last Saturday in a Conference II football game, the Garden City Trojans unveiled their most dazzling play of the afternoon.
With the score 14-6 in the Trojans’ favor, senior quarterback Brett Stewart serenely surveyed the field and then lofted a high-arcing spiral to junior Matt Borges, who outmuscled a well-position defender to haul in a 35-yard scoring pass. The play was so beautiful and breathtaking that the fans at Warren King Field were momentarily stunned into silence. When they caught their breath, they let out a roar. “Stewart to Borges, and that was gorgeous,” intoned the public address announcer.
On the Trojans’ next possession, junior Thomas Wright took a pitch from Stewart and found junior tight end Brian Colamussi streaking along the right sideline. He hit him in stride for another score. And when the Marines fumbled at their own 24 with 29 seconds to play in the first half, Stewart deftly engineered another touchdown drive, scoring on a keeper that made the score 35-6. On those three possessions, the Trojans were but a blur.
But the Trojans are also more than just a pretty face. In the fourth quarter, they cobbled together the kind of no-nonsense, time-consuming drive that wins football games. Despite their instant-strike offense, Long Beach’s Chris Parler was keeping his team in the game. Parler, a junior, would finish the contest with 259 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Behind his determined running and a third-quarter shutout by the Marines’ defense, the visitors methodically closed the gap. As the third quarter was winding down, the Marines were within 17 at 35-18, and had the Trojans pinned inside their own 10 on third-and-long. A comeback was not inconceivable.
“Chris broke off some big runs,” Long Beach head coach Scott Martin said. “We were down a few receivers, so we stuck with what we felt would work.”
On the first play of the final quarter, though, Stewart made another play. First he aired one out, and then he took the air out of the ball.