Bellport senior linebacker Ben Erkan knew the exact moment he and the Clippers could beat North Babylon.
It wasn’t during yesterday’s game at North Babylon. It didn’t even come anywhere near a football field. In fact, it came Friday night inside Bellport High School during a team meeting after practice. One by one, every senior got up and spoke to their teammates about their promising season, just a year after going 1-7.
“A lot of guys had tears in their eyes,” Erkan said. “It meant a lot to everyone.”
What did fellow senior DeQuan Wilson say? Just one word: “Win,” Wilson recalled.
That’s just what Bellport did, as the Clippers jumped to an early 22-point lead and shocked North Babylon, 50-14, in Suffolk II.
Bellport’s Anthony LaGrega recovered a fumble on North Babylon’s first possession. Five plays later, Jimmy Morrell converted a fourth-and-2 play as he scored on a seven-yard touchdown run. He found Wilson for the two-point conversion pass.
Wilson — as he did throughout the game — made his presence felt. This time he blocked a punt on the Bulldogs’ next possession. Later, Morrell turned a fourth-and-8 into an impressive 23-yard touchdown run thanks to a great block from James Highsmith. Morell and Wilson connected again on the conversion pass and the lead was 16-0 with 1:27 left in the first quarter before a stunned Bulldogs crowd on Senior Day.
The lead ballooned to 22-0 after a 27-yard touchdown run by Dwan Trent (68 yards rushing, two scores) with 3:26 left in the first half. North Babylon (6-2) got on the board as Brandon Sobotker scored from 4 yards out with 31 seconds left, and Bellport (7-1) led 22-7 at halftime. Sobotker ended with 228 yards on 22 carries with two scores. Bellport’s Wilson had five catches for 75 yards. Morrell was 13 of 20 for 98 yards with a touchdown, and added 75 yards rushing on 13 carries with two scores.
“We had a turnover and a blocked punt . . . The big plays went our way,” Bellport coach Joe Cipp III said.
The big plays continued for the Clippers, who outscored North Babylon 22-7 in the third quarter and held a 44-14 advantage. North Babylon’s ground-and-pound rushing attack was severely limited thanks to a tenacious Bellport defense led by Erkan, who had 10 tackles. Wilson added nine tackles and forced two fumbles. Defensive tackles LaGrega (8 tackles) and Sean McGourty (6 tackles, including two sacks) controlled the interior line all game.
“They put on us, what we like to put on our opponents,” Bulldogs coach Terry Manning said.
Now, both teams prepare for the postseason. North Babylon hosts Centereach, and Bellport hosts Huntington in Suffolk II playoff games on Saturday.
“There’s not many times you get another chance,” said a smiling Wilson after the game. “We have more to do, and more to prove.”