Christian Trasolini got New Hyde Park started with a boom.
His 78-yard touchdown run came on the game’s second play from scrimmage, an off-tackle burst and cutback that left the Homecoming crowd at Wantagh stunned and the defense gasping.
After such a promising start, the Gladiators turned the ball over four times and couldn’t finish in a 21-7 loss Saturday in a Nassau Conference II football game. Three interceptions came deep in Wantagh territory as NHP dropped to 1-5.
“I wish there was something I could do for them to get them over the hump,” Gladiators Coach Kevin Dolan said. “That’s been the theme of our season, we’re a play away.”
Wantagh senior Gerard Roche threw two touchdowns and recovered a fumble for a score on special teams. He also intercepted two passes at safety.
“He’s a great athlete and he can do anything on the field,” Wantagh running back Brandon Watson said.
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The game changer came on special teams. When T.J. Ragusa stripped Trasolini on a punt return, Roche swooped in and picked up the loose ball. He took off in the opposite direction with a 35-yard touchdown as the clock ran out on the first quarter. Andrew Martorella’s kick tied it.
“That definitely swung the momentum our way,” Roche said.
Then it was Watson’s turn to break a big play when he took a screen pass from Roche and weaved through the NHP defense for a 62-yard touchdown to give the Warriors the lead with 8:37 to go in the half. Watson finished with 107 yards on 21 carries and 64 receiving yards.
Wantagh (5-1) was denied another score with a controversial call on third-and-goal from the 1 that awarded NHP a fumble and touchback.
But the Warriors marched 60 yards on 11 plays on the next Wantagh possession, capped by a 7-yard scoring strike to tight end Brett Neuman with 4:32 left in the game.
Trasolini finished with 110 yards on six carries and added 28 receiving yards. The team amassed 233 yards offense.
The Gladiators can finish strong. While they may be on the outside of the Nassau Conference II playoff race, their final two opponents – home vs. Mepham (2-4) on Saturday and on the road against Westbury (1-5) the following week – are beatable.
Can a 3-5 record earn the No. 8 seed in the playoffs? It’s mathematically possible.Teams 1 2 3 4 F New Hyde Park 7 0 0 0 7 Wantagh 7 7 0 7 21
Scoring Summary 1st Quarter NHP-W New Hyde Park TD Trasolini 78-yard run
7-0 Wantagh TD Roche 35-yard fumble return Martorella kick
7-7 2nd Quarter NHP-W Wantagh TD Watson 62-yard pass from Roche
Martorella kick 7-14 4th Quarter NHP-W Wantagh TD Neuman 7 pass from Roche Martorella kick 7-21