Andy Merkerson wasn’t supposed to play on offense. He hurt his ankle during practice and was only scheduled for defense.
After halftime, things changed.
Merkerson came out and started running on offense. And running. And running. He didn’t stop until scoring the winning touchdown in overtime to lead Lindenhurst past Northport, 33-27, Saturday.
“Andy just ran.” Lindenhurst coach Nick Lombardo said. “He was really the inspiration for our comeback.”
Northport dominated the first half, holding Lindenhurst (4-0) scoreless, jumping to a 14-0 lead. Ryan Elliot recovered a fumble and had a touchdown run. Frankie Stola made an interception and had a 90-yard reception for a touchdown.
After halftime, it was still bleak for the Bulldogs. Christian Moriarty had an 18-yard run for a touchdown to put Northport (2-2) ahead, 20-0. Late in the third, the spirit of Forrest Gump compelled Merkerson to go on his run. He burst 25-yards to give Lindenhurst its first touchdown.
He ran again for a 2-yard touchdown and make the score, 20-14.
“We talked [during halftime] about how the odds were against us,” Merkerson said. “We needed to keep fighting.”
Justin Zotto caught a 5-yard pass from Austin Perri, tying the game at 20-20 with two seconds left. Justin Gerdvil’s block of Jeremy Ruckert’s extra point forced overtime.
The Bulldogs and Tigers traded touchdowns to start the extra session. Perri ran for a touchdown for Lindenhurst and Northport pressed back scoring on a catch by Stola to tie the game, 27-27.
After Northport missed a field goal, Merkerson sealed the victory with a 10-yard touchdown run.
Merkerson finished with 24 carries for 155 yards and three touchdowns. Perri had 71 rushing yards on 13 carries and a touchdown.
“That last touchdown felt amazing,” Merkerson said. “There is no feeling like it.”