October 23, 2013 | 03:59 PMHauppauge Eagles senior quarterback Nick Mildon held both arms high and soaked in the cheers from the hometown fans after realizing his team's Division III 20-9 come-from-behind victory Saturday over the Comsewogue Warriors football team (now 1-5) was sealed.
Mildon had seen the Eagles (5-1) fall short in each of the past three homecoming games, which he'd played in, so he didn't want to let that happen in his final year of high school.
"We hadn't won a homecoming game in a long time, I don't even know how long it's been," Mildon said moments after defeating Comsewogue, before praising his teammates for their effort. "We've got a special group of guys. We worked hard all week. The coaches called great plays — everybody did a great job. The wide receivers, linemen and especially our defense won us the game."
Warriors running back Christian Knab rushes with the ball down the field. Photo by Eric Holden
Comsewogue coach Sean Tremblay knew coming into the game that Mildon was a player to watch out for, so he looked to keep the pressure on with a tight-knit group of defensive standouts, including junior cornerback Dan Colasanto and senior safety and quarterback Andy Steck.
The Warriors put on a strong defensive effort, but Mildon ultimately connected for 80 yards on 16 passing attempts.
"He's a very good runner and passer," Tremblay said of Mildon. "We never try to focus on one player. We try to take away what they do offensively. What they do is they run everything through him, so we try to take him away."
While Mildon has exceptional arm power, accuracy and pocket presence, it's his ability to elude defenders that makes him so difficult to neutralize. Besides completing nine passes, Mildon did damage on the ground by rushing for 27 yards on 10 carries.
"He's done a great job. He's a runner and he can throw the ball real well too," Hauppauge assistant coach Bob Russo said of Mildon. "Last year he had a concussion so we didn't get to see too much of him. This is his first year really playing."
Defensively, the coaching staff of both teams could not have asked much more of their players in the opening half. After a scoreless first quarter, Comsewogue opened the scoring with a safety just before halftime, with 40.3 seconds left, providing the Warriors a 2-0 lead heading into halftime.
Comsewogue worked their ground-and-pound offense when action resumed, as Steck and senior running back Ade Nelson took turns rushing on a drive that was capped with Steck finding the end zone on a 2-yard run with 5:22 left in the third quarter. Steck's run, along with an extra point that connected, put the Warriors on top 9-0.
Nelson, a team captain who plays both sides of the ball, was the go-to back throughout the game and Tremblay was quite pleased with his work.
"He had just under 900 yards in the first five games," the coach said. "He has certainly done his part. We're a run-based team out of the spread. Some teams are spread to throw. We're spread to run."
Hauppauge responded quickly with some shifty footwork of its own, as senior running back C.J. Ciserano rushed for 32 yards for a touchdown with 1:45 to go in the third quarter, to cut Comsewogue's lead to 9-7.
The Eagles took the lead for the first time and for good in the fourth, with Ciserano finding the end zone on a 4-yard rush with 1:12 left in the game to finish a 91-yard, seven-minute drive. Ciserano's score put Hauppauge on top, 13-9, and he capped the victory with an interception that was returned for a 38-yard touchdown in the final minute of regulation.
Despite playing hard until the final whistle, Comsewogue players were disappointed to have another loss, this time 20-9, on its résumé.
"We haven't been doing as good as we could have," Comsewogue senior wide receiver Mike Kane said. "We've had some ups and downs this season."
Hauppauge's coaching staff was pleased with how the team responded to adversity and remained poised on defense, even when the game got scrappy.
"Every game has been a dog fight," Russo said. "We're right in there with it, hoping to qualify for the playoffs, and we'll take it from there."
Hauppauge moved into a three-way tie for second place, with their next game Friday at Amityville. Comsewogue's loss dropped them to a tie for 11th place. The Warriors travel to Sayville Saturday before hosting Amityville on Nov. 1.