The most important drive of the afternoon proved to be not much of a drive at all.
Immediately after the Bayport-Blue Point football team marched 60 yards on 15 plays in 9:01 to take the lead with 6:59 left in the fourth quarter, its defense just had to prevent Port Jefferson from answering.
Mission accomplished, as a stifling unit propelled Bayport-Blue Point to a 14-7 win in Suffolk Division IV on Saturday.
On Port Jefferson's ensuing drive, the BBP defense allowed one first down but recorded three sacks — one by Davion Maiorella, one by Eddie Negron and a combined sack by Matthew Stawecki and Maiorella. Port Jefferson had to punt on the pivotal possession.
After the defensive stand, Bayport-Blue Point (4-2) got the ball back with 3:23 left, but Port Jefferson still had its three timeouts. A holding call prevented the Phantoms from running out the clock, forcing Lurie to punt.
The Royals started at their own 31-yard line with 1:06 remaining without any timeouts remaining. They threatened against a prevent defense, but there wasn't enough time to come back. Luke Schartner intercepted a desperation heave from the Phantoms’ 38-yard line as time expired.
Schartner, the quarterback, had scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard keeper. Jacob Lurie’s PAT made the score 14-7.
“It’s huge, especially when we’re up by one touchdown,” said Maiorella, who led the defense with five tackles. “We needed to stop them. They had a lot of good players who could have just drove down the field, but our defensive stops helped that to not happen. We clinched the win by doing that.”
The defense was stingy all afternoon, giving the offense opportunities to redeem itself after a messy first half. Phantoms receivers struggled with drops and missed open touchdowns, but Schartner made sure the group pressed onward.
“I knew my boys would get back into it,” he said. “There were a lot of mistakes in the first half, but the second half was great.”
Port Jefferson (3-4) took a 7-0 lead with 8:55 left in the second quarter when Sam Florio connected with Justin Everson for a 30-yard touchdown, followed by Alex Ledesma’s PAT.
Bayport-Blue Point answered after the defense bailed out Schartner. His short pass was tipped and intercepted on the second-half opening drive, but on the Royals’ second play, Stawecki recovered a fumble on the 10-yard line.
Ethan Trotta’s 6-yard run set up Schartner’s 4-yard scamper that would tie the score at 7. Trotta deflected a pass on fourth-and-7 from the Phantoms’ 40-yard line on Port Jefferson’s next possession, giving his team the ball for the eventual winning drive.
Zach Kroog rushed 10 times for 77 yards, Fran Geraci rushed six times for 41 yards, Trotta rushed seven times for 52 yards and Schartner rushed 16 times for 50 yards, most of which came in the second half.
Said Maiorella: “We’re changing the culture by coming back in the second half and being lights out.”