Andre Deegan, Matt Walter lift East Islip past Riverhead, 24-14
Andre Deegan and Matt Walter threw East Islip coach Sal J. Ciampi a makeshift baby shower Saturday.
Only four days after the birth of his third child, a girl named Emma, Ciampi's team earned a 24-14 win over visiting Riverhead to improve to 5-0 in Suffolk II. Riverhead is 3-2.
"It's been a crazy, crazy, crazy week for me," the coach said. "Going back and forth from the hospital, to here, to school, it's been pretty nuts."
Deegan ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries, and Walter hit a clutch 22-yard field goal that extended East Islip's lead to 10 with 4:43 to play. Walter's kick, his fourth field goal of the season, was setup by safety Paul Dondero's interception -- the Redmen's fourth of Riverhead QB Ryan Bitzer. Hugens Tranquille, Steve Walsh and Mike Lee had the others.
"We just picked up a man and covered him and didn't give [Bitzer] any targets to hit," said Dondero, who also caught five passes for 76 yards.
Riverhead cut the lead to 21-14 on Jeremiah Cheatom's 23-yard scamper around left end with 10:44 left in the fourth quarter.
The Blue Waves had the ball on their own 42 down by seven when Dondero picked off the pass and returned it 38 yards to the Riverhead 9-yardline. "This is the biggest football game of my career," the senior said.
East Islip took a 14-0 lead into halftime on scoring drives of 11 and 14 plays. The first, a 97-yard march that took 5:29, culminated with Casey Nolan's 49-yard bomb on a seam route to Lee, and the second with the first of Deegan's two 1-yard TD runs. That drive went 62 yards in 6:55.
The Redmen were 7-for-7 on third-down conversions on the two scoring drives. They were 0-for-7 on third down the rest of the day. "I think it hurts the other team a little bit because they get it to third down and they think they're going to get the ball back," Ciampi said. And then we get the first down."
With 9:08 left in the third quarter, Cheatom returned a punt 19 yards to the East Islip 22. Four plays later, Bitzer rolled out to the right and hit Jaron Greenidge for a 12-yard touchdown to make it 14-7.
East Islip's third scoring drive consisted of a 33-yard pass from Nolan to Dondero and 15 rushing yards from Deegan, including his second 1-yard score that made it 21-7 at the 2:03 mark of the third quarter. Deegan has eight touchdowns this season, including five the last two weeks.
The Redmen's first four opponents have a combined 5-15 record, so the win over the preseason No. 1 seed made a statement, Ciampi said.
"I guess for all the people that still thought we weren't for real, well, I guess we're for real," he said. "We had not been tested yet this year. So any time you get into a game against a great team like that, and you're faced with a little adversity, kids that are inexperienced go one of two ways -- they either do what they did today or sometimes they pack it in."