November 08, 2006

Harborfields Trounce Bonackers

A season that began with such promise and ended with more question marks than answers culminated in a 28-7 loss at home to Harborfields on Saturday afternoon as the East Hampton varsity football team concluded its 2006 season with a 1-7 record in Suffolk's Division III.

The Tornadoes (4-4 in Division III) rushed for over 300 yards against East Hampton's defense with speedy junior running back Freeman McNeil Jr. (19 carries for 147 yards) and senior running back Jay DiStefano (six rushes for 101 yards) leading the way. McNeil, whose father Freeman was a prominent NFL running back for the New York Jets from 1981 through 1992, scored the game's first touchdown on a six-yard run in the opening quarter and his impressive 62-yard run to the end zone on the second play of the third quarter put the Tornadoes in front 22-0.

"He's deceiving because he doesn't look like he's running hard or fast, but he's a very good runner," said Bonackers head coach David MaGarva. "[Harborfields] is a very good team and McNeil really highlights them. They're tough and they're fast and Freeman is tough to bring down."

But perhaps the play that was most devastating for Bonackers fans occurred with just under two minutes remaining in the first half. With East Hampton trailing 8-0 and its defense desperately attempting to maintain that deficit before the whistle that sent the teams to the locker room, Harborfields delivered a serious blow that changed the game completely.

DiStefano took the handoff from the Tornadoes quarterback, headed to the line of scrimmage, shrugged off a tackler and took off down the left sidelines for a 70-yard touchdown. Moments later, McNeil ran the ball into the end zone for the two-point conversion as Harborfields pulled ahead 16-0.

"That big run really changed things," MaGarva said. "That's the way it's been . . . in almost every game [this season] it seems. That kind of broke it open a little bit."

The Tornadoes led 28-0 before East Hampton closed out the scoring in the fourth quarter when quarterback Matt Brierley found back Joe Quigley open for a 10-yard touchdown pass. The scoring catch was Quigley's first touchdown reception of the season (second TD of the year) and it was also the first touchdown pass from Brierley who missed much of the year due to injury.

Senior wide receivers Zach Brenneman (33 yards receiving) and Marley Ficalora (42 yards receiving) were both instrumental in the Bonackers' scoring drive, a drive that spanned 68 yards. Brierley had his best game of the season, completing 8 of 23 pass attempts for 105 yards.

"We had our opportunities," said MacGarva. "We came close to scoring a few times, but just couldn't put it in the end zone."

East Hampton turned the ball over on downs in the first quarter deep in scoring territory and in the second quarter, moved the ball down to the Tornadoes' 7 yard line before turning it over on downs.

"If we punch the ball in on those two spots, it's 16-14 us heading to halftime and a real confidence booster for the kids."

Defensively, Theo Marinescu had 7 tackles and played well in the loss while linebacker Jimmy Dowling entered the game and totaled 7 tackles; at one point he made five tackles in a row in the fourth quarter.

East Hampton's defense also had a season-high three interceptions in the game with Brierley, Brenneman and Brent Davis each picking off passes.

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