The fate of West Hempstead's homecoming literally fell into the hands of senior Daniel Sheeler – twice – in the final 60 seconds of Saturday's game.
With his team trailing 36-35 to Mineola with only a minute left in the fourth quarter, the 6-foot Sheeler ran out for a long pass.
Shoulder-to-shoulder with two defenders, he lept into the air, threw up his hands and caught a pass from Rams quarterback Bruno DeVito, landing just one yard shy of the end zone. The play led to a rushing touchdown from senior running back Justin Boatwright, his third of the day, putting West Hempstead back on top with 52 seconds remaining in the game.
Mineola, who had taken an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter, was still not ready to surrender, making a strong offensive drive toward the Ram’s end zone, carrying the ball to the 40 yard line and then launching a Hail Mary pass with less than 30 seconds remaining. Their final comeback was foiled again by Sheeler, who intercepted the pass to secure a 41-36 West Hempstead victory, now 6-1 for the season.
“I knew I had it. No one was around me,” Sheeler said, finishing the day with three receptions for 50 yards and the interception.
"He’s having an awesome year,” Rams head coach Dominic Carre said the six-foot senior who pulls triple duty at tight end, defense back and as the team’s kicker. “We knew he was a good receiver but his blocking is now a million times better.”
Sheeler’s final catch was a dramatic finish to a game that was packed with excitement. Boatwright led with 19 carries for a total of 152 yards and three touchdowns, junior Michael Petrizzo had 12 carries, 92 yards and a touchdown and DeMarco, who was 7-for-8 for the day, threw for 144 yards and two touchdowns.
“We ran the ball effectively and threw the ball well when we had to. We made big plays,” Carre said. “They played awesome.”
Noting that it was the last homecoming game for him and his fellow seniors, Sheeler said the day was “emotional.”
“We had to step it up... and go out with a big bang,” he said. “I’m going to miss it.”1 2 3 4 F Mineola 14 0 14 8 36 West Hempstead 0 21 14 6 41
Scoring Summary 1st Quarter M-WH Mineola TD Webber runs from 19-yards out Breslin kick 7-0 Mineola TD Pantelides caught a 20-yard pass from Gaffney Breslin kick 14-0 2nd Quarter M-WH West Hempstead TD Petrizzo caught a 18-yard pass from DeVito Sheeler kick 14-7 West Hempstead TD Boatwright runs from 31-yards out Sheeler kick 14-14 West Hempstead TD Petrizzo caught a 20-yard pass from DeVito Sheeler kick 14-21 3rd Quarter M-WH Mineola TD Gaffney runs from 31-yards out Breslin kick 21-21 West Hempstead TD Boatwright runs from 1-yard out Sheeler kick 21-28 West Hempstead TD Petrizzo runs from 24-yards out Sheeler kick 21-35 Mineola TD Gaffney runs from 34-yards out Breslin kick 28-35 4th Quarter M-WH Mineola TD Gaffney runs from 11-yards out Napolitano catches a pass from Breslin 36-35 West Hempstead TD Boatwright runs from 2-yards out Pass failed 36-41