Massapequa defensive back Jack Korber is a 5-7, 165-pound bundle of energy and grit. Billy Andrle is East Meadow's 5-11, 210-pound hammer of a running back that makes defenders, big and small, pay when they get in his way.
Andrle was enjoying his typical shock and awe performance. He was over 200 yards rushing, had already scored four touchdowns and two 2-point conversion runs. His final scoring run -- a 5-yarder -- in the fourth quarter brought the Jets within two points and the conversion run loomed in yesterday's Nassau Conference I thriller in East Meadow.
With the Homecoming Day crowd on its feet, Andrle barreled over the right side of the line and into the teeth of the Massapequa defense. Korber, charging up in runstopping support, got in low on Andrle's legs and thwarted the run as the defense came up with a huge stop with 8:32 left.
Halfback Nick Capuana added a 14-yard touchdown run on the ensuing seven-play, 84-yard drive as Massapequa closed out East Meadow, 38-29, before a sun drenched autumn crowd of more than 1,800 in the pivotal Nassau I game.
"We knew the game was on the line and the ball was going to Andrle for the two-point try," said Korber, who had eight tackles and a fumble recovery. "But knowing it's going to him and stopping him is something altogether different. He's a great player."
The Chiefs (5-2), buoyed by the key defensive stop, are in position for a home playoff game if they can win at Farmingdale (6-1) on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. East Meadow (5-2) will host Freeport (1-6) on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Both games carry playoff implications and home field advantage.
"We lost two games in the final minute this season," said Massapequa coach Kevin Shippos. "It's all about finishing and we weren't getting it done late in games. This is the way you finish."
Shippos was pleased with the way his team closed out the win. The critical stop on defense was followed by a long, time-consuming drive.
"Teams live and die by the blitz and they were selling out," Shippos said. "And our guys were getting a block on them and the backs were finding huge lanes to run. This was a big win."
East Meadow opened the scoring with an eight-play, 70-yard drive capped by Andrle's 32-yard run. The Chiefs responded with a seven-play, 64-yard scoring march. Quarterback Paul Bentz, who completed seven of 13 passes for 123 yards and two scores, hit Craig Berge on a 15-yard slant for the tying touchdown with 4:19 left in the first quarter.
After the teams traded turnovers, Andrle added a 1-yard scoring run and his two-point conversion run made it 15-7 with 9:10 left in the half. It would be all Massapequa from there.
The Chiefs cut the deficit to a point when Bentz hit Korber on a crossing pattern for the 15-yard touchdown and Berge added the kick.
Harry Lowe recovered the onside kick and five plays later, Capuana bulled in from a yard out for the Chiefs first lead, 21-15.
Lowe made another huge contribution before the half ended. He stripped Rob Bergmann on a kickoff return and recovered the fumble to set up Berge's 33-yard field goal and the 24-15 halftime lead.
"We were able to throw on them in the first half," Bentz said. "And our line was excellent in the second half when we went to the ground."
Andrle countered the Massapequa ground attack when he added a 3-yard scoring run and the two-point run that closed the deficit to 24-23 with 1:08 left in the third quarter.
"We didn't stop Andrle but we made him work on every carry," Korber said.
Korber's contributions also came on offense. His burst up the middle for a 54-yard touchdown run, his second score of the game, which proved to be the game winner as the Chiefs took a 31-23 fourth quarter lead.
Andrle finished with 229 yards on 32 carries and four scores and it wasn't enough.