The most-anticipated game of the Long Island football season lived up to all the hype last Saturday afternoon at Hofstra as undefeated Freeport and undefeated William Floyd battled down to the wire for the Class I title.
And for the fifth time in as many meetings, the Red Devils found a way.
Senior Jordan Jackson blocked the potential game-tying extra point with 8:18 remaining and had an interception on the final play as Freeport captured its second L.I. championship in three years and sixth overall with a thrilling 20-19 victory before a spirited crowd of 3,500.
“Coach [Russ] Cellan told us early in the year to be prepared to play a one-point game somewhere along the way,” said Jackson, who picked off Floyd quarterback Mack Driver’s desperation heave at the Freeport 28 and ran out the final five seconds, finishing with a victory slide. “It’s such an amazing feeling,” he added. “I love this team so much and the LIC is what we’ve worked for all season.”
Jackson also caught one of junior quarterback Terrance Edmond’s two touchdown passes, a 13-yarder to open the scoring. Edmond had 153 yards passing and 68 rushing. Sophomore Jayvian Allen had a 22-yard touchdown reception, and senior Justin Lescouflair a go-ahead 58-yard touchdown run on his lone carry, snapping a 13-13 tie with 2:06 remaining in the third quarter.
“I’ve been coaching 35 years and this game ranks right up there in terms of excitement,” Cellan said. “It was everything it was hyped up to be. It was a heavyweight fight between the two best teams in the state.
“I’m just so proud of our guys,” he added. “It took everything they had to win it. They left it all on the field.”
Senior Gerard Smikle (13 tackles) and juniors Makhai Jinks (8, one interception) and Arnold Cruz (8) led the defensive effort for the Red Devils, who finished 12-0 for the first time in program history and put themselves at the top of the Rutgers Cup conversation along with L.I. Class II champion Garden City.
Edmond was 11-for-18 passing and intercepted once, on a third-and-19 early in the second quarter. His first completion went for 60 yards to Allen on a wheel route and set up Jackson’s touchdown for a 6-0 lead just 4:20 into the game.
All three Floyd touchdowns came through the air. Driver (11-for-28, 234 yards, three interceptions) threw for a pair of scores and wideout Jordan Clinton, who caught one, tossed one of his own on a gadget play to Eddie Longo with 55 seconds left in the half for a 6-6 tie.
The Red Devils, who overcame 16 penalties totaling 162 yards, needed just 14 seconds to answer and led 13-6 at the half on Allen’s 22-yard touchdown grab, set up by senior Ja’juan Warren’s long kickoff return.
It was the first game all season Freeport wasn’t in cruise control at intermission. “We knew we had to play all four quarters and we spent extra time on conditioning this week,” Jackson noted.
The Colonials pulled even again midway through the third when Matthew Wagner, despite tight coverage by Jackson, made a phenomenal catch along the sideline on fourth-and-forever and went 55 yards for a touchdown. It was 13-13 after Floyd’s lone successful PAT.
On the eventual winning touchdown, Lescouflair busted up the middle behind senior center Jaden Richardson and was instantly off to the races.
“It was a tough game and we just had to keep pushing,” said Smikle, who contributed to Freeport’s 28-14 win over Floyd in the 2016 LIC. “We put it all on the line and it feels great to be holding the trophy.”