Eric Schweitzer had perfect timing for the perfect way to help Babylon's football team remain undefeated. Visiting Hampton Bays had just tied the score at 8 and that momentarily stunned the big homecoming crowd assembled to see the last two unbeaten teams in Suffolk IV.
Schweitzer took the ensuing kickoff and returned it 87 yards with 3:42 left in the first quarter for the first of his three touchdowns in a 37-8 victory that ran Babylon's record to 6-0 Saturday.
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"They had just scored," Schweitzer said, "so it was a good idea to send it right back." Joey Mankiewicz made a key block near midfield and Schweitzer was gone. "I saw a hole, so I went," the running back said. "It was wide open from there."
In the second quarter, Schweitzer and teammate Luke Zappia each scored on 10-yard runs and Babylon opened a 30-8 halftime lead. "These were two great teams," said Zappia, who scored twice and gained 78 yards on 12 carries. "They brought it, but we really brought it. We just have to keep ogling. We want to stay perfect, that's the goal."
Schweitzer's final touchdown came on a 5-yard run in the third quarter. But it was his kickoff return that caught everyone's attention as the turning point in the game. "It really deflates the other team," Babylon coach Rick Punzone said. "They think they're back in the game and all of sudden that happens."
Quarterback Nick Santorelli added, "Eric has a knack for playing big when it matters. We're all on the sideline saying 'He's going to take this to the house.' Everyone had a good feeling that he was going to do that."
Schweitzer, who rushed 12 times for 94 yards, also bailed out Santorelli in the second quarter when the quarterback threw an interception but Schweitzer, a linebacker on defense, forced a fumble on the same play.
"He saves me a lot, that was big," said Santorelli, who completed 8 of 13 passes for 102 yards. "I was a little down, but of course he makes a play when he has to. I was pretty nervous, I thought it was going to be a close battle but the fact that it was our homecoming and we didn't want to be embarrassed on our own turf and we want to continue the perfect season. I think it amped us up and kept us going."
Next up for Babylon is Shoreham-Wading River, which has only one loss. "It's a big game when you talk about seeding," Punzone said. "Obviously you want to be the one seed, the team that everybody has to go after. If you lose a game, you could drop to the three seed. It's not just a game, we are playing for position right now."