Roosevelt rides way to Nassau IV title
The theme of Nassau IV this season has been unpredictability. A team with a 44-game winning streak (Seaford) was stopped cold. Favorites were upset with regularity, explaining No. 1 Locust Valley's absence from the conference final.
And while a frigid, see-your-breath night at Hofstra had its share of hold-your-breath moments -- Roosevelt and East Rockaway totaled seven fumbles -- the one constant of this topsy-turvy season carried the Rough Riders to victory: Erin Parker.
The electric running back gained 192 yards on 19 carries, including touchdown runs of 64 and 63 yards, and threw a two-point conversion pass as No. 2 Roosevelt beat No. 5 East Rockaway, 21-14, Thursday night in the Nassau IV final. Roosevelt earned its first Nassau title since 2006. East Rockaway never has won a county title.
"It's dial number nine, that's what we do," coach Joe Vito said. "The linemen were blocking, and for us to have any chance next week, we're going to have to continue doing that."
Roosevelt (8-2) will face Glenn at noon Nov. 26 at Hofstra in the Long Island Class IV championship game.
"It's always a battle between East Rockaway and Roosevelt," Parker said. "It's a very good game. It's intense."
With Roosevelt trailing 14-13 and facing a fourth-and-5 from the East Rockaway 7-yard line, Robert Sweeney hit a diving Teddy Santana in the right side of the end zone with 10:58 left. Parker completed the two-point conversion to Santana to increase the Rough Riders' lead to 21-14.
"We went out there and we applied ourselves," Santana said. "We had to get the job done."
But the victory still was no sure thing.
On its ensuing possession, East Rockaway (6-4) drove to the Roosevelt 30, converting on fourth down twice along the way. But on fourth-and-6 from the 30, Nick Ulip's run fell 2 yards short of a first down.
The Rocks got the ball back with just over a minute left, but an incomplete pass on fourth-and-25 from the Roosevelt 37 ended their season.
"Their defense did a great job stopping us, but we stopped them when it really counted with three seconds left," Parker said. "We were able to make something happen."
Up to that point, the game was anyone's for the taking.
Roosevelt broke through in the second quarter on Parker's 64-yard touchdown run with 10:51 to go. He shed defenders with ease as he tore toward the end zone. But East Rockaway took advantage of a Rough Riders miscue to tie the score at 7.
With just over a minute to play in the first half, Roosevelt was forced to punt and managed only a 5-yard kick, giving the Rocks an extremely short field. On second-and-14 from the 31, Ulip dropped back and fired toward the left side of the end zone. Sean Bohan, racing downfield with a defender in tight coverage, hauled in the pass near the pylon and fell forward for the touchdown.
Parker gave Roosevelt a 13-7 lead on the first play from scrimmage of the third quarter, running 63 yards for a touchdown. The conversion run failed.
Luke Fahrenkrug's 8-yard run with 7:10 left in the third tied the score, and John Neckles' kick gave the Rocks their first lead of the game at 14-13.
But Sweeney, Santana and Parker came back to wrap it up.
You just can never tell in Nassau IV.