The Mineola Mustangs turned the tables on the Locust Valley Falcons last week after its cross-county rival took a win on Oct. 2 with a last second field goal by Nick Petralia. This time, Mineola’s Robert Lang and his right foot would have final say in Nassau Conference IV playoff semifinals.
With less than a minute left in the fourth quarter, senior Robert Lang sent a 21-yard field goal soaring through the uprights, breaking the tie and securing the Mustang’s 16-13 victory at Hofstra’s James Shuart Stadium on a freezing cold Saturday Nov. 15.
“I’m speechless—I can’t describe how it feels,” Lang said after Mineola punched its first finals ticket since 2002. “I might feel it tomorrow, right now I’m just so proud of my team and taking it all in.”
Leading 13-0 at halftime with neither team scoring in the third, Falcons quarterback Tyler Liantonio hit Owen Trepeta for a 20-yard score making the score 13-6. After a Mineola turnover, Falcons running back Sam Torelli rushed for a two-yard touchdown with 6:33 left in the fourth quarter, tieing the game.
Despite the Locust Valley crowd cheering and things suddenly getting more interesting, the Mustang’s never lost sight of their way after a three-and-out by the Mineola offense.
On the next Falcons possession, senior Peter McCormack intercepted a pass at the Falcon’s 40-yard line. The Mustangs drove to the four-yard line to set up Lang’s avenge-seeking chip shot.
“We did what we had to do to win,” Mustangs head coach Dan Guido said. “We didn’t do too well offensively in the second half, but we pulled it off.”
Mustangs senior quarterback James Gerstner and senior wide receiver Brian Smith orchestrated their two touchdowns, the first being a 62-yard drive leading up to a 4-yard run by Smith into the end zone in the first, and then a 27-yard scoring pass to Smith in the second.
“We won this game with heart—we took it to them as a team,” Gerstner said.
Mineola’s senior linebacker/running back Ryan Eccher led their defense as tight as the frigid weather felt, preventing a Falcons’ first down until halfway into the third. The longest gain by Locust Valley was six yards.
The Mustang’s will now face the Roosevelt Roughriders (9-1) in the Nassau Conference IV championship at Hofstra on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 4 p.m.
The Mustang’s defeated Roosevelt 47-38 in their second game of the season, where Gerstner put on an impressive performance, rushing for 212 yards and five touchdowns on 23 carries. He also completed 11-13, 229 yards and one touchdown.
With their loss to Mineola the only thing that stood in their way of an undefeated season, the Roughriders will be seeking retribution. A far cry from their 4-5 record last year and losing to West Hempstead 34-6 in the county quarterfinals, the Mustangs held their helmets high on Saturday night as they prepare for their potential championship win.