Robert Hansen's name doesn't appear in the scoring summary and his rushing yards didn't factor much into Roosevelt's ground attack, but Sunday night, sandwiched between the quarterback and Johnnie Akins, he helped lead the Rough Riders to the promised land.
Hansen parted the sea of Valley Stream North defenders and helped lead to at least two touchdowns as the Rough Riders defeated the Spartans, 26-21, to win the Nassau IV title at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium.
Roosevelt reached the Long Island Championships for the second year in a row and will play the winner of Monday's Mount Sinai-Babylon game at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Stony Brook.
"I just put my head down, lead through the holes and make sure [Akins] can get free," said the 6-1, 225-pound Hansen. "It doesn't matter about personal stats as long as we win."
While Hansen worked in the trenches, Akins and Marquell Saunders dazzled in the open field. Akins amassed 175 yards on 39 carries and Saunders scored twice, once on special teams, and amassed 122 yards on the ground.
Roosevelt (9-2) needed every one of those contributions as the Spartans charged back from a 24-point third- quarter deficit and drew within three on three touchdowns by Bill Patsos.
VSN (7-4) got to the Roosevelt 44 with 3:53 to go, but a fourth-and-4 pass under heavy pressure from Raymond Jones went incomplete, keeping the score at 24-21.
Jones teamed with Chris Anderson on a tackle in the end zone for a safety with 14 seconds left.
"Valley Stream never, never gives up, even when we first played them," Saunders said. "We beat them by a lot , but they're a strong team and they work together."
Roosevelt kicked off the scoring less than six minutes into the game. Akins followed a block by Hansen and shook free up the left sideline for a 13-yard gain and a first down at the Spartans' 16. Three plays later, he squeezed through another crack opened by Hansen, going up the middle for a 4-yard TD with 6:06 left in the first quarter.
"He's a big boy," Akins said. "He plows for me. And then I have my brother in arms, Saunders. If they stop me, they can't stop him; if they stop him, they can't stop me."
With 8:33 left in the second quarter, Saunders fielded a bouncing punt near the right sideline at his team's 34-yard line and crossed over to the left sideline on a path-clearing block by Kyle Moore. Added protection by Anderson secured Saunders' downfield passage for a 66-yard touchdown return and a 16-0 halftime lead
Hansen then sprung Saunders for a 70-yard TD run and a 24-0 lead with 10:55 left in the third.
Then things began to unravel for Roosevelt, which lost Hansen, a two-way player, on a run with 8:26 left in the third. Patsos started coming to life, proving nearly unstoppable with a touchdown reception of 68 yards and 74- and 1-yard scoring runs. The last of those came with 7:16 to play.
Valley Stream North ran out of time, though. And almost like a heavenly sign of the Spartans' waning hopes, Hansen, clearly still in pain, sprinted onto the field after a nearly quarter-long absence.
"As long as we win, that's all the glory I need," Hansen said later, still limping with his right knee taped. "Like I tell Johnnie before every game: If he follows me, I'll lead him to the promised land."