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Wantagh Football Wins Semifinal Thriller Against MacArthur

Brandon Watson's late-game heroics give Warriors a 14-13 overtime win and a shot at Nassau County Conference II title.

Story by Andrew Coen.

Wantagh’s Brandon Watson experienced the highs and lows of competitive high school football in a span of minutes during Saturday’s Nassau County Conference II semifinal game against neighborhood rival MacArthur.

After fumbling at the MacArthur 21-yard line in a 7-7 game with 1:03 left in the fourth quarter, the senior running back responded when it mattered most in overtime. Following Dom Danetti's 18-yard touchdown reception off a wide receiver option pass from Mike Rotondo that put the Generals up 13-7, Watson blocked the ensuing extra point attempt and two plays later on offense raced into the end zone on a 20-yard dash.

A successful extra point from junior kicker Andrew Martorella then secured Wantagh’s berth into the Nassau County Conference II finals, 14-13.

 “It’s the best feeling getting a win like this,” said Watson, who rushed for 96 yards on 19 carries in Saturday's semifinal game at Hofstra University's Shuart Stadium. “It was two good teams going at it and we knew we had to come out on top and we did.”

“He really stepped up,” said Wantagh head coach Keith Sachs of Watson’s clutch play during overtime in the face of adversity. “It was an emotional win.”

The dramatic victory by Wantagh (8-2) moves the Warriors into the Nassau County Conference II title for the second straight year against Garden City, a 22-18 winner against Carey in Saturday's other semifinal game.

MacArthur sees its season end at 8-2 with both losses coming to Wantagh.

 "There was a lot of guys that contributed and put a lot of work into this to a great season and unfortunately we came out on the wrong end today,” said MacArthur head coach Bobby Feherbach.

Soon after Saturday’s game kicked off at 10 a.m. it appeared like MacArthur might be the team advancing to next weekend’s county title game after senior running back Tom Kelleher capped a 10-play 77-yard opening drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge that gave the Generals a 7-0 lead.

Kelleher had 58-yards on the ground in the opening scoring drive, but was limited to 49 yards the rest of the way. Wantagh’s first half offense was held to just 13 yards on 11 plays but the third and fourth quarter told a far different tale.

 Wantagh amassed 133 yards in the second half while limiting MacArthur to just 41. A Watson 20-yard touchdown pass from Gerard Roche with 7:52 remaining in the game knotted the score at 7-7.

 “We played our game in the second half,” said Sachs, who has guided Wantagh to two Nassau County titles in two decades on the Warrior sidelines including a Long Island Class III championship in 2001.

Wantagh looked like it was poised to take the lead midway through the fourth quarter with the ball on the MacArthur two-yard line, but the General defense came through by stopping a carry from offensive lineman Nick English just short of the goal line on fourth down.

“They played great today,” said Coach Feherbach of his defense. “To hold a team with Wantagh’s firepower to seven points in regulation there isn’t much more you can ask.”

Wantagh will play for the Nassau County Conference II title next Sunday at Hofstra against Garden City, who defeated the Warriors by a 31-14 score on Oct. 20. Kickoff is slated for noon.
Chris Wendt November 18, 2012 at 01:02 AM
Congratulations Warriors! Good luck against GC next week.

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