Longwood and Northport's Suffolk I game was a highly discussed topic on social media throughout the week. The banter continued on the field and in the stands, but ultimately, Longwood -- Newsday's No. 2- ranked team -- was the lone team with anything to say as the Lions defeated Northport, 34-0, on a chilly day yesterday at Northport High School.
"There was a lot of chatter on the social media about how they were going to run it down our throats," said Longwood coach Jeff Cipp.
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Instead, it was the Lions' ground attack and big offensive line that controlled game and extended their record to 4-0.
Northport (3-1) opened the game with a 47-yard drive to the Longwood 35 before quarterback Andrew Smith rolled left and threw incomplete on fourth down.
That's when the Longwood offensive line took over.
Tahj Clark's 26-yard touchdown run along the left sideline capped an eight-play, 65- yard drive. Clark lowered his shoulder and delivered a big hit to break a tackle at the 20 on his way to paydirt.
"The line was blocking hard to open the holes," said Clark, who ran for 118 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries. "I'm thankful for them because they get the job done."
Longwood scored on its next two drives. Clark scored again after a 10-play, 55-yard drive with a 1-yard run, and on the following possession halfback Khalil Owens spun out of a tackle at the line of scrimmage and scampered down the right sideline for a 67-yard score.
"I just didn't give up," said Owens, who ran for 142 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. "I really wanted to score so I just kept my feet moving."
The common theme throughout the drives was Longwood's dominance up front. Of Longwood's 25 first-half running plays, 21 went for at least three yards.
The unit -- consisting of tackles Nick Castrova and Matt Weiss, guards Tyler Herrmann and Anthony Lavio and center Vincent Feliciano -- continued to get the job done in the second half. For the 14 plays (all runs) the first team offense was on the field in the second half, 13 went for at least three yards, highlighted by Clark's 41-yard touchdown -- his third score of the game on the second play of the half. The Lions scored their final touchdown on Owens' 7-yard run that capped a nine-play, 52-yard series.
The methodical ball control offense also served a greater purpose by giving the defense time to rest. The Lions earned their shutout with a swarming attack led by linebackers Latrell Horton and Antonio Scala.
Weiss -- last season's Zellner Award winner as Suffolk's top lineman -- said simply, the offensive line and entire team "played really well together."