Elmont expected to have its hands full on the gridiron when South Side came to town for Homecoming last Saturday afternoon, and its presumption was correct. The Cyclones were riding high after a 37-7 drubbing of Manhasset and were looking to make some noise against one of the top teams in Nassau Conference II.
The much-improved South Side eleven more than held its own, and took a lead into the final quarter, but it the end it was the Spartans who left the field with a victory.
Elmont got a pair of touchdown receptions in the fourth quarter from Chester Anderson, and Michael Djalo put the game on ice with a late interception return for a score to lead the Spartans to a 31-18 win. South Side’s Pierce Fine scored a touchdown and kicked a field goal to lead the visitors.
Trailing 18-13, the Spartans turned to Anderson. The senior wide out ran a stop-and-go pattern, got in the clear, and quarterback Brian Jean-Baptiste hooked up with him for 52-yard touchdown to give Elmont a 19-18 lead.
The Spartans increased their lead the next time they touched the ball using a bit of trickery. Jean-Baptiste threw a backward pass in the flat to Jaiyetoro Gordon-Younge, and Gordon-Younge connected with Anderson on the double pass to give Elmont a 25-18 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Djalo’s pick-six capped off the scored with a little over three minutes to play.
Elmont head coach Jay Hegi wasn’t surprised by South Side’s toughness. “They are a very good team,” Hegi said. “They have some big boys and a lot of talent. We knew coming in that it was going to be a dogfight. Having the wind in the fourth quarter was a big plus. We held them at bay in the third, and were able to do some things through the air in the fourth.”
After a 51-yard scamper by Djalo put the Spartans up 7-0, the game took some twists and turns. A South Side punt pinned Elmont at its own one-yard line, and on the ensuing play Djalo was tackled in the end zone for a safety.
Despite losing Nick Licalzi early in the game to an injury, South Side chipped away. A 23-yard field goal by Fine cut Elmont’s lead to 7-5.
On its next possession, the Cyclones appeared to have missed an opportunity to go ahead when Gordon-Younge intercepted a pass in the end zone. But Fine made a nifty move by stripping the ball out of his hands to give South Side its first lead of the day at 12-7. Each team added another touchdown before Elmont’s dominant final quarter.
The Spartans, who improved to 3-2, got solid play on the offensive line from senior center Kaurice Jones, and juniors Emmanuel Flemming and Klay Dehaney. South Side fell to 2-3.
Elmont’s tough schedule doesn’t get easy any time soon. The Spartans go on the road for a Friday night matchup with 3-2 MacArthur. Game time is 7 p.m.