The Braves football team needed to play a perfect game against the Freeport Red Devils to have any chance in moving onto the finals in Conference I.
Syosset played their hearts out and made things interesting at the end but ultimately fell to a stronger Freeport team Thursday night at Hofstra, 39-25.
The Braves started out a little shaky - a muff on the opening kickoff gave them poor field position to start the game. An interception on the first offensive play would give the Red Devils perfect field position on the fifteen yard line, and they would capitalize with an early 2-yard touchdown run by Dan Olivier.
But trailing 7-0 in the second, Ventricelli started to heat up – three straight passes of 10-plus yards put the Braves on the Red Devils seven. The drive ended in a 25-yard field goal by Logan Fischer to make it 7-3.
The Braves defense would soon have some trouble stopping Freeport's playmakers: a 55-yard touchdown pass down the left side of the field from Isiah Barnes to Jere Brown made it 13-3.
Ventricelli would later hook up with Nicholas Bilianis on a 8-yard pass to make it 13-10, but that would be as close as the Braves would get: a 37-yard rushing TD by Maurice Irby put the Red Devils up 20-10, and a Barnes passing touchdown would make it 26-10. Another big play by Barnes in the third quarter saw him fake a hand-off and run for a 72-yard touchdown almost untouched to make it 33-10.
The Braves made things interesting in the end when Joe Morris' touchdown closed the gap to two scores, but Freeport's offense would come up big on the ground with a couple of first downs and run the clock out, ending the Braves season at 5-5.
Despite the loss, the Braves did play well. Trailing 33-10, there was certainly no quit in this team, and they made it interesting. In the end, Freeport will head on the finals to play the winner of Farmingdale and Oceanside, while Syosset heads home.
Turning Point: Ventricelli's touchdown pass to Bilianis put the score at 13-10 in favor of Freeport. But from there, it would never be as close, with Barnes and Brown leading the way. Barnes 73-yard rushing TD would prove to be the big play, expanding the Red Devils lead to 33-10.
Heroes: The Braves offense, led by Ventricelli, Morris, Bilianis, and Chris Park. The defense also came up with a couple of big fourth down stops in the first half.
Key Stat: Ventricelli's two passing touchdowns gives him seven total in his past two games.
The Quote: "It was crazy playing here, the college field and the college atmosphere," Ventricelli said. "Freeport was great, but although we lost, it was a good experience and something to learn from."
Bottom Line: The Braves needed to play a perfect game to beat Freeport Thursday. They made it as close as they could, and certainly played hard and to the final whistle, but it just wasn't enough. The offense played great, led by Ventricelli and Morris, but Freeport's speed at quarterback and running back was just too much for the Braves defense to handle.
Nassau County Conference I Semifinals
Teams..............1.....2.....3.....4 -- F
Freeport...........7...13...13.....6 -- 39
Syosset............0...10.....8.....7 -- 25
F - Olivier 2 run (Sandoval kick)
S - Fischer 25-yard FG
F - Brown 55 pass from Barnes (kick failed)
S - Bilianis 8 pass from Ventricelli (Fischer kick)
F - Irby 37 run (Sandoval kick)
F - Williams 12 pass from Barnes (kick failed)
F - Barnes 69 run (Sandoval kick)
S - Park 12 pass from Ventricelli (Park pass from Ventricelli)
F - Olivier 35 run (kick failed)
S - Morris 22 run (Fischer kick)