Oceanside’s football season ended in heartbreak last Saturday with a 31-28 first-round Conference I playoff loss at fourth-seeded Massapequa in a game that featured multiple lead changes in the final minutes.
With 31 seconds remaining, Massapequa sophomore quarterback Garrett Gibbons tossed a 20-yard pass to his sibling Shane Gibbons, who was left wide open in the flat and capped off a 72-yard game-winning drive that sent No. 5 Oceanside packing for next season. More than a minute earlier the Sailors retook the lead when senior offensive lineman Michael Scibelli cashed in on an 11-play drive with a two-yard touchdown pass from junior receiver Derek Cruz to go up 28-24 with 1:47 left on the clock.
“We definitely expected to get back to Hofstra,” Oceanside head coach Rob Blount said moments after the loss that sealed his team’s record at 4-5. “Obviously for us, we fell a little short, and we’re just going to keep on working and get back next year.”
The Sailors’ first-round departure from the playoffs came a season after they went undefeated during the regular season and reached the county finals for the first time in nearly 40 years before falling to Farmingdale in the title game at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.
Oceanside had entered this year’s playoffs with momentum after an equally thrilling 31-27 home win against Massapequa to close the regular season the week before. A win would have set up a county championship rematch with Farmingdale in the semifinals at Hofstra on Thursday afternoon.
With Oceanside leading 21-10 at halftime, Massapequa began to turn the momentum in its direction after recovering an Oceanside fumble near midfield late in the third quarter. Massapequa junior running back Griffin Hawthorne then bounced off tacklers en route to a 27-yard touchdown run up the middle that cut the Sailors lead to 21-17.
Following another Oceanside fumble deep in its territory, Massapequa surged to the lead on a five-yard touchdown run by Garrett Gibbons to open the fourth quarter.
“We dropped the ball way too many times,” Blount said. “We actually have not fumbled the ball the entire season. So when you put them on the ground in the playoffs, you lose.”
Oceanside’s defense managed to stifle Massapequa drives on two interceptions in the end zone. Junior linebacker Bermie Diaz had a pick after a 10-play Massapequa drive that started with the Chiefs recovering its onside kick to open the second half. Earlier, during the first quarter, sophomore defensive back Jake Lazzaro snatched a pass intended for Chiefs junior receiver Owen Glascoe during the first quarter, one of his two picks on the day.
Lazzaro also shined on offense with three touchdown receptions that included a 95-yard dash down the sideline. But none of it was enough to ward off the relentless Chiefs.
“In the playoffs you have to capitalize off the other team’s mistakes,” Blount said. “We just happened to have more mistakes than they did.”