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Bob Herzog

Bob Herzog has worked in the sports department at Newsday since 1976. He has covered baseball, football and college basketball.

He has edited and written for several award-winning Newsday special sections on baseball, football and Long Island sports history.

Herzog grew up on Long Island, graduated from Commack High School where he was co-captain of the baseball team, and received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University.

Rocky Point improves to 4-0 with win over Hauppauge

Most of Rocky Point's football players had the letters "RF" inked on their white socks in light-blue magic marker Saturday. It was their way of showing solidarity behind quarterback Harry Lynch, whose family lost a dear friend, 16-year-old Robert Flaherty on Tuesday.

"During the game, my teammates would point to their socks and then point to me," Lynch said. "They are the best teammates in the world."

And Lynch reciprocated the gesture by pointing his team in the right direction. Host Rocky Point, which was 0-8 last season, continued its remarkable turnaround by beating Hauppauge, 35-7, in a duel of Suffolk Division III teams who both entered the game unbeaten at 3-0.

Lynch was elusive and efficient in running Rocky Point's read-option offense. He completed 5 of 7 passes for 79 yards and three touchdowns and added a 2-yard TD run. He also made clever ball fakes and daring pitches to spring his backfield mates for numerous big runs.

Sean Orlando carried five times for 84 yards, including a 48-yard TD in the fourth quarter. Alex Borjas carried four times for 62 yards, including a 35-yard run that set up Rocky Point's first touchdown -- scored by Borjas on a 9-yard reception. Jack Sullivan added seven carries for 53 yards.

Sullivan led an aggressive defense with three sacks and Borjas contributed two sacks. Each had a strip sack that turned into a Rocky Point recovery as the Eagles broke open a game that they led only 14-0 at halftime.

"We made some adjustments," said Borjas who moved between cornerback and linebacker depending on the situation. "On defense, I do what I want.

That's appropriate because coach Craig Perrino said, "We call him 'the adjustor.' We move him around, and he adjusts to make big plays."

In improving to 4-0, Rocky Point scored the first 35 points before sending in its subs in the fourth quarter. Hauppauge quarterback Tom Balcom completed 11 of 17 for 148 yards and a touchdown, but was sacked five times.

"These kids play hard. They crank it up when the ball goes in the air," Perrino said.

They are enjoying their newfound football success. "There's a little buzz here for football," Borjas said. "That gets us excited. We are smaller than almost every team, but we are so fast and so athletic teams can't stay with us."

Perrino said he knew this team could be special when, "Two weeks after our final game last year, every kid was in the weight room."

That includes Lynch, who at 5-5, 135 pounds doesn't exactly look like a pump-you-up kind of guy.

"But he fits what we do offensively," Perrino said. "He's a great point guard and that's how he plays quarterback. He distributes the ball and makes good decisions."

One of those yesterday was a 26-yard slant to his cousin, Brian Lynch, for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter that made it 28-0. They both could point to their socks with pride.

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Kyle O'Donnell leads dominant effort by St. Anthony's defense in win

That's the trouble with rising to the challenge of being thought of as a "no-name" defense. Pretty soon everybody knows your name. So it was cheers for the St. Anthony's 'D' Friday night.

Linebacker Kyle O'Donnell led a spirited effort with 13 tackles, including three sacks, and two fumble recoveries, and quarterback Steve Genova completed 17 of 23 passes for 297 yards and three touchdowns as the Friars defeated Holy Cross, 30-7, in a CHSFL game on homecoming night in South Huntington.

"That's our mentality, that we're a no-name defense after the great defense that they had last year," said O'Donnell, a junior in his first season as a starter for the Friars (3-1). "We never want to lower the bar. We took mental reps last year and we're seizing the opportunity. It wasn't just me. Our ends made plays for me and I made plays for them."

One of the biggest plays came midway through the fourth quarter when the Knights (0-4) had crossed midfield, having gotten an obvious lift when a 32-yard run on a fake punt had set up their only touchdown that cut their deficit to 17-7.

"The momentum had shifted and we knew we had to make a play," said O'Donnell, a 6-1, 200-pounder who switched from inside to the middle depending on the offensive sets. On third-and-10 from the Friars' 45, O'Donnell shot through the middle, sacked Joe Fellin, stripped the ball loose and fell on it.

Genova immediately cashed in, completing passes of 23 yards to Danny Jones (three catches, 74 yards) and 16 to Rob McCann (six catches, 106 yards, one TD) to the Holy Cross 1. Kwesi Thomas-Henderson plowed into the end zone for a 23-7 lead with 6:13 left. He was filling in for St. Anthony's star Jordan Gowins, who sat out the game with what coach Rich Reichert said was "a tweaked hamstring."

After Thomas-Henderson's TD, the St. Anthony's defense again stood tall as senior defensive end Pete Corbett made back-to-back tackles in the backfield for losses totaling 9 yards and Holy Cross was forced to punt. Moments later, Genova connected with James Pryor for a 27-yard touchdown.

"I'm the only starter back from last year, that's why we call ourselves the no-name defense," the 6-1, 245-pound Corbett said. "Whether Jordan plays or not -- and he might be the best player in the state -- we know we have to play tough and smart to teach the young guys what to do."

O'Donnell is learning fast.

Remember his name.

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Commack bears down in 2OT and defeats Brentwood on Peter Lopes' game-winner

Commack midfielder Peter Lopes (21) celebrates his winning
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Commack midfielder Peter Lopes (21) celebrates his winning goal in the second overtime in a game against Brentwood on Tuesday Sept. 23, 2014.(Credit: George A. Faella)

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On a corner kick early in the second overtime, Commack coach Dave Viegas called "Panda." His players called something else. Clearly this wasn't a black-and-white situation.

"I was supposed to go back post," senior midfielder Justin Cebollero said. "But I was there for the cross instead and I headed the pass to Peter. I got a little selfish there. I wanted to put it in the box."

Peter Lopes took the header from Cebollero and quick-footed it past the diving keeper 1:05 into the second overtime period to give the host Cougars a thrilling 1-0 victory over Brentwood Tuesday in a duel of League I and state soccer titans. "It's always huge to beat Brentwood," Cebollero said. "We beat them twice in the regular season last year but they beat us in the playoffs. We were thinking about that. We beat one of the best teams in the state."

Entering the game, Brentwood (5-1-1, 3-1-1 in league) was No. 3 in the latest state rankings. Commack (7-0-0, 5-0-0) was No. 5 and should move up, thanks to Lopes' first varsity goal.

"I went to bed dreaming about scoring an overtime goal against Brentwood, but I never imagined this," said Lopes, a junior defensive midfielder.

The winning play began with Connor Gill setting up for a corner kick. That's when Viegas yelled "Panda," but a couple of players "shooed me off. They overruled me," Viegas said with a laugh. "I trust these guys. They just went 'stack' instead and their judgment was right. It worked."

That was because Cebollero's header in traffic was perfectly placed. "The defense crashed but Justin's ball was too perfect," Lopes said. "I couldn't miss."

For most of the game, Brentwood held the advantage in both time and territory, thanks to the fancy footwork of stellar junior midfielder Jefferson Portillo, who was all over the field creating opportunities and controlling the ball, especially in the first half. But Cougars keeper Ryan Sinnott, who made 10 saves, was equal to the challenge, making stops on Portillo and Roberto Ventura.

"There will be stretches like that during every game," Sinnott said. "But you have to stay strong. When there are a lot of shots, sometimes it can help you focus and get in a rhythm."

Sinnott and his teammates have had perfect rhythm and harmony all season, as well as some impeccable timing. Lopes' goal was an encore of Cebollero's sudden-death tally last week against Sachem North. "I thought I'd never have that feeling again," Sinnott said.

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