Boys Varsity Football · Crazy Comeback Secures Playoff Bid for Football Falcons

The Flatbush Varsity Flag Football team qualified for the Mesivta Football League playoffs for the second consecutive season with an amazing second half performance in the opening game of a football doubleheader Wednesday night (11/28), scoring 21 unanswered points to defeat the YDE Thunder by a score of 27-26.  The Falcons then dropped a tough battle to the undefeated Shaare Torah Stars in the nightcap by a score of 15-6 at the turf field at the Aviator Sports Complex in Brooklyn, NY.

Entering the evening, the Falcons knew what they needed to do.  Win at least one of their remaining three games, and they would be assured of one of the 6 playoff spots.  With two games on tap for the evening, the opportunity was there to complete the task.  But, nothing was assured, as the opponents would not be pushovers, and the weather at Aviator could clearly be a factor as the temperature always feels a good 10 degrees cooler than what the thermometer reads because of the open field and the proximity to the water off the Atlantic Ocean.

YDE was up first for the Falcons, and the Thunder wasted no time letting Flatbush know they would be in a dogfight.  The Thunder took the opening drive and scored on the heels of their speedy quaterback.  Head Coach Murry Tawil was not surprised by the YDE attack.  “We knew the play and were prepared, however one missed tackle on the play and it was all over.”

But Flatbush has its own speedy quarterback in Senior Sol Laniado.  Laniado took off on the first play of the Falcons first possession and took it to the house to even the score.  It looked like the game would be an old-fashioned shootout!

Flatbush got a stop and looked to be marching for a go ahead score.  It appeared as if Laniado had Michael Chattah wide open, but a Thunder defender came out of nowhere to intercept Laniado’s pass (the defender was pulled into the area by a fellow receiver who ran the wrong route).  YDE scored right away, and took a 13-6 lead.  The Falcon offense continued to stall, with receivers getting open but finding an inability to secure the ball.  With the half nearing a close, YDE again took advantage of a missed tackle and scored again.  At the half, the Thunder were in control, 20-6.

Trailing by two scores to start the half, Coach Tawil knew the defense would need to step up to keep the Thunder in reach.  But instead, YDE added to its point total right off the bat.  The score was now 26-6, YDE, and Flatbush was clearly in trouble.

From that point on, a different Flatbush team took the field.  The offense came out with the singular focus of moving the ball, and the defense was recommitted to Coach Tawil’s game plan.  The Falcons to a man believed that YDE’s success was due to fluky plays and that they should have yielded even one point.  The defense was lights-out the rest of the way, denying the Thunder even one more first down the remainder of the game – and it proved to be key.

With the ball, and trailing by 20 points, Laniado hit on a quick strike to reliable receiver Ezra Dweck, and with the extra point conversion a success, the score was now 26-13.  To giver the comeback any real life, though, the defense needed to make plays, and make plays they did.  Abie Soussan was a fixture in the YDE backfield, and recorded two sacks on the next possession to force a Thunder punt.  Laniado turned it into more Falcon points with his second rushing score of the game.  Along with the extra point, it was now a six-point game, 26-20.


Once again, the defense needed to be sharp, and Soussan continued to wreak havoc on the YDE attack.  The Falcons forced the YDE offense off the field, taking the ball back.  There were 54 seconds remaining in the game, and with only one time out in hand, the Falcons went to work from their own 20-yard line needing a score to stay alive.  Laniado connected on a few passes to receivers along the sidelines, who were able to take the completions and then get out of bounds to stop the clock.   It was a methodical march down the field, but time was running out.  with 20 seconds left, Laniado saw Dweck isolated in a match up that he felt was favorable, and gave Dweck a chance to make a play.  The ball was lofted towards Dweck in the end zone, and with a defender interfering with him on the play, it made no difference.  Dweck pulled in Laniado’s pass for the game-tying score.  When the pair connected again on the ensuing try, the Falcons secured the all-important extra point.  The comeback was complete; game over! Flatbush prevailed, 27-26 in one of the most amazing finishes in MFL play!

Jacob Rishty put it well afterwards.  “That game was so crazy! Sol was soooo good!”

The Falcons were elated, and with the improbable comeback the team assured themselves of a berth in the MFL playoffs.  But, there was still more football to play.  Game two of the doubleheader awaited, with the undefeated Shaare Torah Stars the scheduled opponent.

 Shaare Torah started with the ball, and scored on the opening drive when the defensive backfield – in proper position – failed at multiple attempts to grab the ball carrier’s flag.  To add to it, they allowed the Stars the extra point on the conversion.  The game was barely underway, and Flatbush was already needing to play catch-up.
But, they were ready to do just that, with the memory of the first game still fresh in everyone’s minds.  And, Laniado was primed for more magic, moving the ball for a big gain with his feet on third and long.  But, the game took a serious turn on the end of that play.  Laniado was bearing down on the line-to-gain marker, angling to go out of bounds just past it, when he was contacted hard by a pair of Stars defenders.  They all fell in a heap out-of-bounds.  The defenders got up, but Laniado remained on the ground, clutching at his knee.  He would return, but he was just not the same player after that.  He moved the team on first down, but needed to come out after that.  Reserve quarterback Joey Maswary came in, and though he gave a strong effort, the drive bogged down.  Laniado came back in on 4th down and goal to go, but his mobility was clearly affected, and he could not complete the pass, handing the ball back to the Stars on downs.
 The defense stepped up its play, with Maswary keeping pressure in the offensive backfield and Soussan continuing to play in-your-face defense.  And, the Falcons got support downfield from Alex Mikhli, preventing the Stars from adding to their total in the first half.  Meanwhile, Flatbush’s next offensive possession also stalled.  By the half, the score remained Shaare Torah 7, Flatbush 0.
Nevertheless, Coach Tawil was positive with his boys at the intermission, knowing his Falcons packed big-strike ability on offense, and proved they were capable of shutting down the potent run game of the Stars.  But, the restart was not great for the Falcons.  The defense stopped the Stars, giving the offense the ball deep in their zone after a Shaare punt.  With the ball, Laniado tried two long passes, but could not connect on either.  Facing third down and long, he dropped back and sprinted out to the right side.  When he found no open receivers, he threw the ball far out of bounds.  The officials ruled it intentional grounding (there is no “outside the tackle box” rule in flag football; it is an NFL rule) and awarded a safety to the Stars.  It was a huge call, and two very large points.
On the next possession, Shaare again got deep into the Falcon defensive zone, and scored on a catch right over the shoulder of the Falcons D-Back who was in good position.  This time the conversion failed, but Shaare held a seemingly insurmountable 15-0 lead.  Yet, there was no quit in these Falcons.
With renewed focus, Laniado set the offense.  With time provided by blockers Ness Bawabeh and Jack Zeitouny, Laniado connected with David Cohen and then again with Dweck on mid-range passes to move the ball to midfield.  Then, Dweck broke loose on a go route and Laniado hit him in stride.  Dweck scored on the 40-yard pass play to cut into the Stars lead.  Dweck got loose near the sideline on the ensuing conversion attempt, but the pass was low and tough to handle.  The extra point try failed, and Flatbush now trailed Shaare 15-6, and the Falcons would need two scores to win.
The defense responded, holding the Stars to a three-and-out behind the front line pressure of Soussan and Maswary.  With the ball back and needing to score, the offense could not muster any success, missing on consecutive sideline passes that either carried out of bounds on the strong cross wind, or fell off target.  Flatbush would get no closer, and Shaare secured the 15-6 win to remain undefeated.
Afterwards, Coach Tawil remained optimistic.  “We clinched a playoff spot tonight,” he stated confidently.  “And, we got familiar with Shaare who we will likely see down the road.  we have some time to get healthy before our final regular season game, so I feel really good about this team.”
NEST NOTES:  The Falcons record now stands at 4-3, and is assured of no worse than a 5th place finish in the standings. They will play their final game of the regular season on Sunday, December 16 against Yeshiva Darchei Torah.  Game time is 3:30 pm at the Lawrence HS turf field in Lawrence, NY.