North Babylon needed one more play to seal the upset deal against East Islip in a Suffolk II football semifinal Saturday. Melijah Purvis, a running back and strong safety, was more than happy to oblige.
Of the seven touchdowns scored by North Babylon (7-3) in its resounding 52-41 victory, the biggest was its last, when Purvis returned an interception 50 yards midway through the fourth period for a 19-point advantage. It was the defining moment in an outcome few expected after East Islip beat the Bulldogs by 25 points in Week 4.
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"I was going crazy on the sideline," North Babylon tight end Joseph Sonnenberg said of Purvis' interception. "That was probably the best feeling."
Quarterback Casey Nolan played great for East Islip (8-2). He rushed for three TDs and threw for two more, but it wasn't enough.
Purvis also played great, but he usually makes his mark on offense. He already had scored on a 5-yard run in the third quarter but he did not have an interception this season. "It was a nice pick," coach Terry Manning said. "We were [kidding] him pretty hard all year. He was the only guy in the secondary who didn't have a pick yet."
"It was great," Purvis said. "I was playing possum the whole time waiting for the ball to be thrown. I saw it go in the air and made my move on it."
Everything that went wrong for North Babylon in the regular-season game against East Islip went right this time.
"We were definitely more determined; they beat us last time pretty bad," Purvis said. "They roughed us up. We just didn't come to play that game. The whole week we've been pumped for this game, since we got the call that we were going to be playing them . . ."
That was evident in the third quarter when North Babylon scored 21 straight point to erase a 20-14 halftime deficit. Quarterback Jake Conner scored on a 36-yard run, Matt Grassa ran one in from 8 yards and Purvis' score made it 35-20 with 5:01 left.
North Babylon played without Kevin Conner, Jake's brother, who has a wrist injury. The Bulldogs decided not to rely on just running the ball and Conner responded by throwing touchdown passes to Sonnenberg, Eric Marzocca and Connor Slane. "We made reads that they weren't going to be able to pick upon," Jake Conner said. "We basically just went out and did it."
That includes a first-quarter fake punt by Conner with the game tied at 7. The play gained 10 yards and the drive ended in Marzocca's TD.
Manning said Conner always has the green light on fourth down. "He's the best athlete I've coached in a long time," the coach said. "He makes some great decisions."