UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Kellenberg quarterback Matt McDaniels didn’t have many words after the game. It’s understandable. His team lost a heartbreaker, 22-21, to Fordham Prep with 18 seconds left in the CHSAA Class “AA” championship.
There wasn’t much more he could do and nothing he could say. McDaniels had done most of his talking on the field anyway.
“He’s the real deal,” Kellenberg coach Kevin Hanifan said. “He’s an all-Long Island player if you ask me. He carried us today.”
McDaniels accounted for the majority of the Firebirds’ offense and on the plays that he didn’t run the ball himself, he served as a decoy. The quarterback finished with 343 rushing yards on 27 carries and scored all three Kellenberg touchdowns.
He blew open an 80-yard score on the first play of the game to jump Kellenberg to a 7-0 lead. After Fordham Prep tied the score, McDaniels started the second quarter with a 57-yard touchdown. Huge blocks by junior Brendan Fitzgerald and Kevin Liddy allowed McDaniels to run free, but whenever Fordham Prep made a mistake, McDaniels exploited them. He blew up a Fordham Prep blitz at the start of the third with for a 64-yard touchdown run.
“I have nightmares,” Fordham Prep coach Pete Gorynski said of seeing McDaniels even touch the ball. “The kid is a player and a half. He is just really, really good.”
Gorynski said he changed his defense hoping to contain McDaniels but nothing worked.
“He just made us look silly on a couple plays,” Gorynski said. “He’s just a talented kid, great athlete, and as a told him on the handshake line, I’m very happy that I won’t have to defend against him next year.”
In addition to McDaniels’ rushing total, he completed two passes and had a reception.
Fordham Prep beat Kellenberg by one point in overtime during the regular season on a two-point conversion and won the same way Saturday, when Fordham Prep’s Logan Williamson found Jarred Moorer in the end zone. Gorynski said that part of his decision to go for the win, instead of the tie, was to keep from giving McDaniels an opportunity in overtime.
“Everybody thinks that it was some sort of gutsy call,” Gorynski said. “It’s survival. He beats us if I put them back on the field so I wasn’t giving him that opportunity.”