The Conference IV playoff semifinal game between West Hempstead and Roosevelt was a close one up until the halftime mark.
The game, which was played at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium on Saturday night, featured many running touchdowns with the Roosevelt Roughriders taking a 22-16 advantage into halftime. All the West Hempstead Rams needed to do was come out strong in the second half to take control of a team they'd already beaten once during the regular season. But that didn't happen.
On the first play of the second half, Roosevelt's Johnnie Akins ran 72 yards on the punt return to give the Roughriders a commanding 28-16 lead. After a successful two-point conversion, Roosevelt increased its lead to 30-16.
"That touchdown definitely hurt us," said West Hempstead coach Dom Carre. "We were successful bringing the ball upfield on the next drive, but fumbled in the red zone and things spiraled out of control from there."
West Hempstead got the ball back after Akins' touchdown run and the Rams looked solid with their backfield trio of Tayvon Hall, Enrique McFarlane and Bruce Gibbs slowly and steadily moving the ball upfield. West Hempstead managed to get the ball to Roosevelt's 8 yard line and they looked poised to get into the end zone. But the unthinkable happened as quarterback Michael Petrizzo and Hall flubbed a handoff and the Rams fumbled the ball deep in Roughrider territory.
Roosevelt's stellar running back, Akins, took advantage of the West Hempstead miscue and reeled off a 70-yard touchdown run on a third-and-four play on the subsequent possession.
"That was the story of the game," said Carre. "We weren't able to capitalize when we had the ball on their side of the field and we fumbled at critical times. The game wasn't the blowout it appears to be on paper."
Roosevelt will now face Valley Stream North in the Conference IV playoff finals next Saturday, Nov. 24 at Shuart Stadium.
West Hempstead's remarkable senior player Tayvon Hall amassed 1,534 yards on 168 carries this season with 20 touchdowns. Junior Enrique McFarlane had 66 carries for 734 yards and 10 touchdowns.