Reggie Moore lay on the grass in the end zone, his eyes staring down at his hands that had somehow just failed him at the most critical point of Saturday’s game against Half Hollow Hills West.
For all his catches against the Colts, perhaps none were easier than the ball quarterback Ryan Bitzer lofted toward him from 20 yards away in the right of the end zone with about 40 seconds left and the Blue Waves trailing 42-37.
Wide open for what would have been the go-ahead score, Moore got his hands on the ball and appeared to have it in his grasps. But the ball slipped free and hit the grass. Incomplete pass.
Moore couldn’t believe it. Neither could the capacity crowd at Riverhead High School.
The dropped pass could have easily been the final straw for Riverhead, their last chance at victory.
But the Blue Waves weren’t about to let one play stand in their way. Forty seconds still remained, an eternity in a game that featured touchdown after touchdown.
Five plays later, just as the clock expired, senior Charles Bartlett surged into the end zone for Riverhead to clinch a 43-42 victory.
“I’ll forgive him,” Bitzer said of the incomplete pass to Moore. “He played a great game.”
“We just never give up,” Moore said. “I say it over and over. We’re a very strong, hard-working team. You just can’t give up.”
Moore started off the game in dramatic fashion, scoring on an 82-yard pass play on the Blue Waves’ first play from scrimmage.
It was a gadget play the Blue Waves practiced all week.
Bitzer handed off to Bartlett, who then gave it to senior Michael Hinchy on a reverse. Hinchy then stopped and fired a pass down field to a wide open Moore. He made the catch and had nothing but daylight ahead of him as he raced down field for the touchdown that put the Blue Waves ahead 6-0.
“That was crazy,” Bartlett said. “I was like ‘We actually did that.’ We would talk about it all practice and we just ran it to perfection.”
Moore said the coaches have a meeting each Monday. The next day he saw one of the coaches who told him he had a joke for him.
They had a trick play lined up for him that was named after his girlfriend.
“He was like, ‘It’s going to be the first trick play of the game,'” Moore said. “It worked perfectly.”
Moore added another touchdown in the first quarter when he caught a seven-yard pass from Bitzer. Moore finished with five catches and 148 receiving yards.
His best catch of the afternoon came in the second quarter. On second-and-11 from the Colts’ 17, Moore made a superb catch while falling to his back along the left sideline for a 12-yard gain. Two plays later Bartlett scored to make it 21-14 Riverhead.