On a night when big plays were the order of the evening for Bellport, linebacker Caleb White made the one that everyone will remember from this contest.
The Clippers were looking at a grim ending. Though they’d led throughout the second half, West Islip had maneuvered into position to swipe the game from them. The Lions trailed by five but assembled a time-consuming drive down into the red zone and looked poised to not only get the go-ahead score but to leave Bellport with little time to recover.
Sal Calderone looked bound for the end zone, however the ball had other ideas. As it lay on turf five yards from paydirt, White pounced and made the recovery. It sealed Bellport’s 22-17 Suffolk II win at the Lions’ Wayne Shierant Field.
“Go get it,” White said. “You have to go for it thinking ‘that’s my ball.’”
“We haven’t made enough plays when we had to, but it was different today,” Bellport coach Jamie Fabian said. “We might have found our stride tonight. . . . It was definitely a step forward.”
As far as the number of big plays for Bellport (3-1), Jason Hunt accumulated the most. He caught a 58-yard touchdown pass from Justin Miles, returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown and had three sacks, including the one that ended the game as West Islip (3-1) tried for a long pass.
“No one talks about him, but he is an absolute monster,” Fabian said. “The touchdown pass was on a pipe pattern, I got behind them and [Miles] put it in my hands. On the kickoff, there was daylight and I’ll always take that — take that to the crib.”
Bellport running back Donte Phillips carried a big load with 110 yards rushing and a three-yard TD that put Bellport ahead 22-10.
“We hadn’t played to our potential but tonight we were much better,” he said. “We got to see what happens when you keep pushing through. You can get a great win like this.”
West Islip answered after Phillips score with a 72-yard drive for a 5-yard touchdown run by Chris Piropato to draw within 22-17. And on the ensuing Bellport possession Calderone made his second sack to turn the ball over on downs. But what looked like a dream ending ended up a nightmare.
Piropato also scored the other Lions touchdown. Calderone took the ball to the precipice of the end zone there, too, but it got stripped. Piropato recovered in the end zone for a 10-8 Lions lead. Hunt returned the ensuing kick off for the go ahead score.