Senior quarterback Kyle Acquavella knew the final seconds were ticking away, but he was unsure of MacArthur’s plans on third down from Elmont’s 21-yard line and no timeouts left.
“I thought we might spike it and then take a shot at the end zone,” he said. “Then I heard everyone yelling for a field goal and it was just hurry, snap, kick.”
Acquavella, also the Generals’ kicker, drilled a 38-yard field goal dead-center, barely clearing the crossbar, as time expired last Friday night, giving MacArthur a thrilling 17-14 victory in a pivotal Conference II matchup.
“Watching the kick along the way felt like a movie,” said Acquavella, who had a pedestrian 13-for-32, 166-yard, one-touchdown passing performance. “I thought it had the distance, but everything seemed like it was happening in slow motion,” he added.
The winning drive began at MacArthur’s 32 with 1:41 remaining after what would be Elmont’s last possession stalled following an incomplete pass on fourth-and-1. Acquavella had a couple of key runs and then delivered a clutch completion to sophomore Hugh Kelleher, who made a leaping grab for a 25-yard gain to bring the ball just inside the red zone with under a minute to go.
A sack resulting in an 11-yard loss appeared to push the Generals out of field-goal range at the Elmont 30, but a completion on the next play to senior Tom Evans got all but two of the yards back. With the clock running inside of 20 seconds, in raced the field-goal unit. Junior Kevin O’Shea had the snap and junior Matt Cummings was the holder.
“That was quite a finish,” MacArthur head coach Bob Fehrenbach said. “Kyle’s kicked well all year, but to nail one like that under pressure isn’t an easy thing to do. It was great.”
The Generals (4-2) held a 14-0 halftime lead thanks to Acquavella’s 2-yard touchdown run and 20-yard touchdown pass to senior Mike Manfredo in the second quarter. They also had their first and last possessions of the half fizzle deep in enemy territory.
“We didn’t finish a few drives and it cost us a bigger halftime lead,” Fehrenbach said. “Elmont’s a good team and you can’t keep them down for long.”
The Spartans (3-3) managed just 79 yards in the first half and committed three turnovers, including a fumble on their first snap and an interception in the end zone (by MacArthur senior A.J. Lohmuller) late in the second quarter.
“We’ve shown some good character coming from behind the last two games,” Elmont head coach Jay Hegi said. “In the end, we just made too many mistakes.”
Senior playmakers Chester Anderson and Michael Djalo led a 65-yard scoring drive on the Spartans’ opening possession of the second half to cut the deficit to 14-6. Anderson, who was defended well all night by Evans, caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Brian Jean Baptiste to get the visitors on the board.
A fumble recovery on special teams by junior James Pierre set up the tying score early in the fourth quarter. Baptiste found junior Jaiyetoro Gordon-Younge for a 10-yard touchdown and Djalo (133 yards) ran in the two-point conversion to make it 14-14 with 10:27 left.
Overtime loomed before Acquavella’s dramatic kick.
“When it came off his foot,” Evans said, “I knew it was good.”