By Bill Landon
Comsewogue hosted Hauppauge on Sept. 24, and it was only fitting that the Warriors’ homecoming battle on the gridiron snapped a 10-game losing streak, dating back to the 2015 season.
The Warriors hadn’t won a football game since 2014.
Having dropped the first two games of the season, Comsewogue was on a long string of defeats — so the team was desperate for a win. After squandering a 14-point lead late in the game, the Comsewogue defense stood its ground, and stopped a late-game drive by the Eagles that would have tied the game with seconds remaining, and the Warriors escaped with a 27-21 victory.
“We can never finish games and we were due for this,” senior quarterback Anthony Guardiano said. “We were due to win this game and we did it. We did it as a team. We’ve been busting our butts this week, and we’ve been so much more disciplined than we were last season. We honestly deserved this, and that it was homecoming, made it even better.”
The quarterback pulled double duty on the afternoon, running for 134 yards and rushing in two touchdowns, while snagging a crucial interception in the third quarter to stall a Hauppauge drive that changed the momentum of the game.
After Guardiano scored the first touchdown of the game on a 47-yard run, Kai Cochrane got the call, and pounded the ball up the middle — like he did most of the afternoon — to the second touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run. Although the extra-point attempt by senior kicker Shane Wolff failed following the second touchdown, the Warriors found themselves out front, 13-0.
“We were due to win this game and we did it. We did it as a team. We’ve been busting our butts this week, and we’ve been so much more disciplined than we were last season. We honestly deserved this, and that it was homecoming, made it even better.”
— Anthony Guardiano
The margin of victory could’ve been much greater, had the Warriors not committed as many mistakes as they did. Twice, touchdown passes from Guardiano connected with his open wide receiver, senior Tyler Timpanaro, who came down with the ball in the end zone, but both times the play was called back because of penalties.
On Comsewogue’s next possession, Cochrane, a junior running back and linebacker, broke to the outside and went the distance for the score, only to have the ball called back on a holding penalty. Instead, Hauppauge scored on its ensuing drive to close the gap, 13-7.
Guardiano made things interesting when he sprinted down the right sideline for a first down following a fake punt on a third-and-out, but the Warriors couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity. Both teams traded possession and neither team could score in the third, but Cochrane found the end zone a minute into the fourth quarter on a 14-yard run. He then bulled his way up the middle for a successful 2-point conversion for a 21-7 advantage.
“After halftime, we made adjustments — the coaches got together and made some [changes] offensively and defensively,” Comsewogue head coach Sean Tremblay said. “You can have any scheme you want, and they’re all sound, but it all boils down to the kids who have to execute it.”
Hauppauge discovered a weakness in the Comsewogue secondary, and moved to the air, tossing the ball to open receivers as the Eagles moved the chains down the field. Hauppauge’s quarterback hit his open receiver down the right sideline for a score with nine minutes left in the game, and with the point-after attempt successful, drew his teamwithin six points, to trail 21-14.
On the ensuing kickoff, Comsewogue coughed up the ball and Hauppauge recovered in strong field position. The Eagles marched downfield for another score, and tied the game 21-21 at the 7:31 mark, after the extra-point kick was good.
With 5:15 left in regulation, Guardiano took matters into his own hands and traveled outside on a broken play, running 63 yards for a touchdown. The 2-point conversion attempt failed, and as the clock unwound, the Eagles went back to their aerial offense, finding open receivers over the middle for short yardage as they marched down the field. With 18 seconds on the clock, Hauppauge knocked on Comsewogue’s door, advancing the ball to the 9-yard line. With eight seconds left, the team completed another pass over the middle to move to the 3-yard line. The Eagles tried to get another play in, but a tackle on the 1-yard line prevented a score as time expired.
“This was an emotional win — we needed it badly because were going on 700 days without a win,” Cochrane said. “Today’s win was beautiful, especially on homecoming weekend. We need to stop the mental errors, and we need to keep this momentum going.”