The Lawrence varsity football team once again were crowned champions Friday after defeating Plainedge 54-21 in the Nassau County Conference III title game at Hofstra University.
Led by senior running back Tyler Fredericks’ four touchdowns, the Golden Tornadoes offense continued to be a force both on the ground and in the air, putting up 54 points on the Red Devils' defense.
Plainedge began the game with a bang, as junior running back Gianfranco Soriente ran the opening kickoff 70 yards to the Lawrence 28-yard line. The Red Devils would fail to a take advantage of their favorable field position, though, as Lawrence senior defensive back Raquan Grandy recovered a Soriente fumble at the 5-yard line to give Lawrence the ball.
Staked deep in their own territory, the Lawrence offense was undeterred in moving the ball down field, as a 28-yard completion to sophomore running back Jordan Fredericks on a third-and-eight play set up a 65-yard Tyler Fredericks rushing touchdown to give Lawrence the first points of the game and a 7-0 lead.
After a failed fourth down conversion by Plainedge, the Lawrence offense began their next series on their own 35-yard line and once again utilized their big play ability. A 31-yard Tyler Fredericks rush brought the Golden Tornadoes down field for junior quarterback Joe Capobianco to find sophomore Simon Jones for a 23-yard touchdown reception to give Lawrence a 14-0 lead with seconds left in the first quarter.
Lawrence’s frantic offensive pace carried over into the second quarter, as Capobianco kept the ball for a 25-yard touchdown run to give the Golden Tornadoes a 21-0 lead on their first possession of the second quarter.
Plainedge began the following series at their own 30-yard line and put together an impressive scoring drive consisting of 10 plays, including two fourth-down conversions, for 70 yards spanning 5:40 against a Lawrence defense that has been stingy all season long. Soriente capped off the drive with 10-yard touchdown to make it a 21-7 game with 4:42 left in the half.
Lawrence was given favorable field position at their own 45-yard line and subsequently took advantage on the ensuing drive after Plainedge failed to recover an onside kick attempt. Senior wide receiver Mike Fragner hauled in a 17-yard touchdown pass from Capobianco and then kicked the following extra point to give Lawrence a 28-7 lead with 2:59 remaining in the first half.
Lawrence’s offensive efficiency was put on display at the end of the first half, as the Golden Tornadoes were able to score twice in the final two minutes of the second quarter.
With 1:52 on the clock and two timeouts in their pocket, the Golden Tornadoes began at the Plainedge 45-yard line but a false start penalty on first down moved them back to the 50. The penalty wound end up being harmless, as Tyler Fredericks took the following handoff 50 yards for a touchdown, giving Lawrence a 35-7 lead.
A quick defensive stand from the Lawrence defense allowed the Golden Tornadoes to get the ball back again with 44 seconds left in the half. It took only three plays for Lawrence to go 71 yards down field for a score, this time on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Capobianco to Tyler Fredericks, making it 42-7 going into halftime.
Lawrence began the second half with the ball on their own 25-yard line and Tyler Fredericks picked up where he left off in the first half with a 59-yard rushing touchdown to make it 48-7 early in the second half.
Another futile offensive possession for Plainedge gave Lawrence the ball back at the Red Devil 30-yard line after a failed fourth down conversion. On first down, junior Elijah Jones ran the ball 30-yards for the final Golden Tornado touchdown of the game to make it 54-7 midway through the third quarter.
Plainedge would add to their score twice before the end of the game on a 40-yard touchdown reception from Soriente and a 1-yard rushing touchdown from junior running back Mike Dotzler to make it a 54-21 final.
Lawrence will now play the winner of the Suffolk Conference III championship game between Sayville and Westhampton, both tough opponents, for the Long Island championship next Friday.
“They are better than any team that we’ve seen all year,” Lawrence head coach Joe Martillotti said. “We’ll have our work cut out for us. I still think if we get our guys the space they’ll put up points.
“We’ll play whoever the Suffolk champion is,” Martillotti added. “[Sayville] left a bad taste in our mouth last year the way we played that game so we’d like a little redemption against them.”