You can't un-ring a bell and apparently, you can't wear one out, either.
Matt Bell ran for four touchdowns out of the wildcat, caught four passes, made an interception that led to a score and even chimed in with a timely booming punt to lead No. 5 Miller Place to a 52-17 victory over host No. 4 Eastport-South Manor Friday night in a Suffolk III first-round playoff game.
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"It gets pretty exhausting being on the field all the time, but I love every minute of it," said Bell, who scored on runs of nine, 10 and 14 yards in the first half and added a 12-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter when the Panthers (6-3) pulled away with 22 points.
Bell and teammate Mike Bodnar made interceptions on ESM's first two drives and Bell ended the ensuing drives with touchdown runs for a quick 13-0 lead. "The wildcat is just for him," Miller Place coach Ron Petrie said.
The Panthers scored touchdowns on their first four possessions, with Bell adding another scoring run and Stephen Farrell hooking up with Matt's brother Tom for a 45-yard touchdown pass that made it 27-7. Tom Bell caught five for 81 yards, four in the first half when the Panthers built a 30-7 lead.
The Sharks, however, wouldn't go down without a bite. Matt Kane (15-for-41, 202 yards, three interceptions) led his team on two scoring drives for 10 points that made it 30-17 with 2:25 left in the third quarter.
"They came out swinging in the third quarter and I was a little worried," Petrie said. "I was wondering how we would respond."
Very well as it turned out. There was one more dangerous moment, when Matt Bell was forced to punt from his own end zone early in the fourth quarter. But he booted it 59 yards. On the next play, Cole Francis recovered a fumble, setting up the Panthers at the ESM 31. Four plays later, Bell ran it in from the 12.
On the next ESM drive, Bodner made his second interception, returned it 18 yards and after a penalty was tacked on, the Panthers were in business at the Sharks' 8. Three plays later Kemonte Mosely (17 carries, 81 yards) scored from the 1. Tyler Ammirato (10 carries, 91 yards) added a 34-yard TD run as Miller Place cruised into next week's Suffolk III semifinal.
Matt Bell (nine carries, 56 yards, four receptions, 62 yards) admitted he was feeling some fatigue in the fourth quarter. "Coach asked me if he should put in Tyler -- he's our backup in the wildcat -- but I told him, 'No way.' I wanted to make plays for me, for the team and for the fans."
Ring up a big victory for Miller Place.