senior Tom Forsberg lined up next to quarterback Rich Czeczotka in the backfield. He took the direct snap and darted up the middle. Forsberg ran through the secondary in a blink.
Had defenders wrapped him up, it would have made for a nice gain to open the game. Instead Forsberg spun out of two tackles, shook off a facemask with a third pirouette and didn’t stop until he reached the end zone.
Babylon and Glenn are fierce rivals. You expected a game of momentum-changing blows. Yet Forsberg’s 80-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage proved to be as devastating and staggering as any haymaker.
“The first play of the game signified the whole game,” Babylon Coach Rick Punzone said. “Kid gets the ball, gets hit by five guys and runs 80 yards.”
Top-seeded Glenn poured on 21 second-quarter points and scored the game’s first six touchdowns to beat the No. 4 Panthers, 42-7, in a Suffolk Division IV semifinal Saturday before a crowd of 500 in Elwood.
“We came into this game knowing it was a playoff game and it could be our last time playing together,” said Forsberg, who finished with 143 yards on 12 carries and the one score. “We knew we had to step it up.”
Babylon (6-3) managed 260 yards total offense, including 146 on the ground. Yet starter Zach Fredericks couldn’t get the Panthers past midfield until late in the second quarter when three straight passes fell incomplete at the Glenn 35.
Fredericks was pulled after Glenn linebacker Nick Princiotta stepped in front of an out pattern and raced 10 yards with an interception for a touchdown to make it 35-0 just 1:30 into the third.
Now it’s on to the Suffolk championship game for Glenn and a rematch with Amityville (which handed the Knights a 42-28 loss on Oct. 15). The game is 7 p.m. Thursday at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium.
It’s been a remarkable four-year run for Coach Dave Shanahan and the Glenn football program. The Knights (9-1) have not lost at home since 2007 and are 41-3 since 2008. That includes a game a year ago, part of a season.
One week after a , Knights quarterback Rich Czeczotka completed 9 of 16 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 51 yards and a score.
“This is huge for us,” Czeczotka said of getting back to the title game. “This has been our goal since the summer.”
Czeczotka’s 34-yard touchdown strike to Jon Mannix came two plays after Matt Shanerman recovered a Babylon fumble and put the Knights ahead 14-0.
The quarterback hand-delivered a dagger on the next series when he perfectly read the Panthers’ defense, pulled down the ball and dashed untouched 53 yards for a touchdown. Greg Orkiszewski’s kick made it 21-0 with 9:20 left in the half.
“We make teams cover the entire field,” Shanahan said. “We’re not one dimensional.”
Wideout Ray Wardell hauled in backup quarterback Nick Santorelli’s 14-yard touchdown pass to put Babylon on the board with 1:54 remaining. Babylon had appeared in 14 of the last 15 Division IV title games. But the Panthers will have to wait til next year.
The team of the moment is Glenn.
Suffolk Division IV Semifinal
Teams............1.....2.....3.....4 – F
Babylon..........0.....0.....0.....7 – 7
Glenn.............7...21...14.....0 – 42
G – Forsberg 80 run (Orkiszewski kick)
G – Mannix 34 pass from Czeczotka (Orkiszewski kick)
G – Czeczotka 53 run (Orkiszewski kick)
G – Wagner 15 pass from Czeczotka (Orkiszewski kick)
G – Princiotta 10 INT return (Orkiszewski kick)
G – Mannix 50 pass from Czeczotka (Orkiszewski kick)
B – Wardell 14 pass from Santorelli (Malhas kick)
Check back for game action photos on Monday.