It took just a couple of minutes in the first quarter of yesterday's game for John Haggart to put his myriad skills on display. And that was long enough to turn the game in Sayville's favor.
On the opening drive of this Suffolk III duel of undefeated teams, Miller Place had marched from its own 20 to the Sayville 6. After a holding penalty wiped out a touchdown run, Haggart raced in from his left defensive end position to sack quarterback Ryan Gray for a 9-yard loss.
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Two plays later, Haggart again beat his man and dragged down Gray for a 7-yard loss. The Panthers went from first-and-goal at the 6 to fourth-and-goal at the 36.
Haggart, a senior who has committed to Stony Brook where he will play linebacker, wasn't through being a destructive force. On the Golden Flashes' second play from scrimmage following the Miller Place punt, Haggart took a handoff, ran to the right edge then turned sharply back to the middle and scooted 68 yards for a touchdown.
"It's a great feeling. I love the open field," Haggart said. He saw plenty of it, rushing for 191 yards on 24 carries with three touchdowns as Sayville defeated Miller Place, 35-12. The victory, before an overflow homecoming crowd, gave Sayville (6-0) a school-record 18 consecutive victories, the longest current streak on Long Island.
"I told John on Friday night that big players make big plays in big games," Sayville coach Rob Hoss said. "I know that's a cliché, but he just looked me in the eye and said, 'I know what to do.' "
Haggart has been doing it for Sayville for three years, but acknowledged that some games are bigger than others. "I knew I had to step it up because people were counting on me," he said.
"On the sacks, I was lined up on a guard. I knew I could beat him and run down the quarterback," Haggart said. "Those two plays were crazy. I felt that it gave us a spark."
His long touchdown run was a full-fledged breakaway and Sayville was on its way. Sophomore Matthew Selts rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns, quarterback Zach Sirico added 42 yards rushing and 94 yards passing and the defense made three interceptions as the Golden Flashes built a 28-0 lead before Brett Osman (154 yards) scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter for Miller Place (5-1).
"The big reason why we're playing so much better is the offensive line," Hoss said. "We only have one returning starter and there are two sophomores. But they're starting to jell."
But senior center Matt Iovino, a two-year starter, senior tackles Ethan Cooley and Chris Ross, and sophomore guards Bobby Boos and Tim Fraccalvieri controlled the line of scrimmage all afternoon. "Good blocking. I was wide open when I hit the holes," said Selts, who showed off a explosive first step. "Our running game was really working. And Haggart was amazing. Those sacks were huge."
Big plays from a big playmaker.