A loss to Elmont in the Nassau Conference II football regular season finale on October 29 cost the South Side a chance to open the playoffs at home, but not a chance for redemption.

The fifth-seeded Cyclones, led by junior quarterback Owen West, capitalized on a return trip to Elmont exactly a week later, winning Saturday’s first-round game, 27-21, to clinch their fourth trip to the semi-finals in five seasons.

West had a rushing touchdown in each half and sent a 17-yard strike to junior Michael Aiello midway through the third quarter to put South Side (5-4) ahead for good. He advances to face the six-time reigning county champion and top seed Garden City at Hofstra this Friday at 4pm.

“We put last week behind us as quickly as possible and focused on getting to Hofstra,” Cyclones head coach Phil Onesto said. “We were a bit understaffed and the kids knew everyone had to step up. They certainly did.

South Side was still without its first rusher, junior Jack Lozito, who was also leading Nassau when he suffered an ankle injury last month, and also lacked junior wide/safety Michael Melkonian (quadruple), who had his three touchdowns in the loss at Elmont.

The Spartans, who beat South Side, 24-20, on the final day of the regular season to move up the power rankings to the No. 4 seed, finished 5-4.

“We weren’t disciplined today and had so many unnecessary penalties because we didn’t keep our cool,” Elmont head coach Jay Hegi said. “Usually there are a few plays that decide a close game. I can think of around 15.

After a back and forth, played evenly in the first half, the turning point came midway through the third quarter when South Side senior Christian Agosto partially blocked a punt around midfield to provide at West & Co. an unexpectedly good field position. Senior Jack Schaefer recovered at the Elmont 41 and three plays later West hit a wide open Aiello in stride on a post pattern. The Cyclones led for the third time, 21-14, after junior Nick Papadopulos’ extra kick.

“It was a piece that we worked on all year and we picked the perfect time to play it,” Onesto said. “We haven’t been great on special teams this season, but in the second half we had two huge moments.”

Early in the fourth quarter, South Side capitalized on goldfield position when they started possession at the Elmont 5 on a failed punt attempt. West then followed a stack of linemen for a 1-yard touchdown and a 27-14 cushion that proved necessary as the Spartans responded quickly.

“Owen really showed what he can do today, both in the passing game and in the running game,” Onesto said of West, who had a 26-yard touchdown in the second quarter. .

Senior quarterback Kimani Lewis was involved in two of Elmont’s touchdowns, including an 81-yard kickoff return after West scored first. Lewis also joined Justus Nathaniel for 29 yards with 3:48 left in the fourth quarter.

South side senior Danyae Northington (36 yards) and Elmont junior Isaiah Davis (16) traded touchdowns in the first quarter.