EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. -- The last two confrontations in the East Longmeadow-Longmeadow rivalry has left one team heart-broken because of a last-second loss, and one team overjoyed after it narrowly pulled out an exciting victory. This Thanksgiving the game continued with the same theme.
The No. 8 Longmeadow Lancers survived a bruising Thanksgiving Day-game with a 13-7 overtime win, after they were brought to the brink of defeat by No. 18 East Longmeadow with nine seconds left in the fourth quarter.
In overtime Longmeadow (10-1, 7-0 AA) intercepted East Longmeadow (9-1, 6-1) quarterback Tom Mazza’s pass on third down, and simply needed a field goal to earn the victory. On second and goal from the five-yard line, Longmeadow coach Alex Rotsko sent out the field goal unit, but before the snap, the group switched into a Wing-T formation, and backup quarterback Joe Volk handed the ball off on a belly to the right side.
Fullback T.J. Norris fumbled the ball into the end zone, where Lancers’ sophomore Austin Sierra jumped on it, gaining possession of the ball for a timely score and a Longmeadow victory.
Rotsko said after the game that the decision to run the ball with the field goal-unit came because he wanted to move the ball to a better position to kick a field goal, and decided he might as well try to trick the defense.
“Oh my god,” Longmeadow co-captain Jeff Anderson said about the finish. “When that ball dropped, it was the scariest moment of my life.”
“I was more worried about the snap because Joey [Volk] is our holder. Normally I wouldn’t do anything like that, but I have a lot of trust in him,” Rotsko said about the call. “You don’t worry about your fullback, because he’s got to hang onto the ball, but I guess we got a little bit lucky.”
The two teams both averaged over 30 points per game coming into the matchup, but both defenses stood up to the test.
“When you get into a football game of this magnitude, the defenses are just so well prepared, “ EL coach Scott Raymond said about the game. “Both coaching staffs basically shut down both offenses. You couldn’t pick a winner out of this game -- you couldn’t pick someone that had any decided advantage.”
Longmeadow’s Norris managed 23 yards on 11 carries, and EL’s Ray Holloway had 37 yards on 15 carries.
“It was back-and-forth, just waiting for something to break for either team,” Rotsko said. “It never really did…defensively it was two good efforts by two teams that wanted to win.”
Both Rotsko and Raymond decided it was the right move to throw the ball to the outside in the second half. Longmeadow’s Jake Lazarus had the most offense for either team, completing 10 of 16 passes for 160 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
The Spartans’ Mazza had 59 yards on 9 of 13 passes with one interception, but most of those passes came on a fourth quarter drive that showed how talented East Longmeadow really is.
EL strung together the drive of the year using the no-huddle offense and 17 plays to take the ball from their one-yard line to Longmeadow’s 20 and taking up the last five minutes of time in regulation. With nine seconds to play, EL’s Holloway lined up for a 32-yard field goal with the game on the line -- that was eerily similar to last season’s 45-yard miss to give Longmeadow a 21-19 victory. After a succession of timeouts, Holloway missed the kick short and to the right.
“The only [good] drive of the game was the last one that East Longmeadow put together, and based on that, they probably deserved to win the game,” Rotsko said after the game. “But sometimes its better to be lucky than good I guess.”
NO. 8 LONGMEADOW 13, NO. 18 EAST LONGMEADOW 7
LM 0 7 0 0 6 --- 13
EL 7 0 0 0 0 --- 7
EL - Tom Mazza 1 run (Ray Holloway kick)
L - Ben Sterrit 14 pass from Jake Lazarus (Sterrit kick)
L - Austin Sierra 0 fumble recovery