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.