For four quarters, Westhampton sampled a veritable buffet of plays as it tried to crack the stout Comsewogue defense. In overtime, when everything else had failed, they went to what their quarterback called their bread and butter.
Jack Murphy's QB sneak collapsed the Warriors' defense, then Evan Gagne ran a simple sweep around the left side for a 17-yard score as No. 3 Westhampton beat No. 6 Comsewogue, 6-0, on the final play of the Suffolk III first-round playoff game Friday night.
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"It's the most basic play in the book . . . the 21-sweep," said Gagne, who followed blocks from Tim Curry and Zach Rignola, and benefited from a key tackle by Vito Strippoli before scampering into the end zone on the Hurricanes' second overtime possession. "It was unbelievable. It's the best feeling in the world."
Especially on the heels of two hours of denial. After an ineffective first half, the Hurricanes (6-3) marched to the red zone on three of their four second-half possessions, all ending in third-down frustration and three missed field goals by Peter Broccoli.
"The offensive line wasn't really clicking . . . and our momentum came down," Murphy said. "It wasn't [Broccoli's] fault at all . . . We weren't [converting] on third down."
While the two offenses stuttered and stopped, the Hurricanes defense picked up the slack, led by linebacker Brian Culhane, who had 12 tackles after missing four weeks with an injured ankle. His biggest play came on the Warriors' only overtime possession when, on second-and-11, he tackled Ade Nelson behind the line of scrimmage for a 5-yard loss. Comsewogue (4-5) never recovered, and a broken-up pass by Murphy and a short pass on fourth down set up the Hurricanes' winning score.
Both teams struggled mightily to move the ball upfield, with Nelson (26 carries, 75 yards) serving as the game's most consistent offensive threat.The Warriors had a chance with nine minutes left in the second quarter after Ryan Keefe's 67-yard dash up the left side in the dwindling seconds of the first. But with the ball on the 1, Nelson was stuffed by Culhane at the line of scrimmage -- more offensive frustration in a game full of it.
"He's half a step slower," coach Bill Parry said of Culhane's injury, "[But] he slowed down one of the best backs in the division."