While spectators at halftime where watching a Finding Nemo float during homecoming festivities at Riverhead High School, the Riverhead and Newfield football teams were in the locker room trying to find something else -- offense.
The two squads had entered the Suffolk II matchup with identical records and, as they took the field for the second half, they were staring at identical goose eggs on the scoreboard.
Both teams found some offense in the second half, but Riverhead (4-2) found more of it. The Blue Waves rode two second-half rushing touchdowns to a 17-7 victory.
"We knew they were keying on our tight ends, so we wanted to run away from that," Riverhead coach Leif Shay said of his halftime adjustments.
And run they did.
Riverhead broke through early in the third quarter when quarterback Ryan Bitzer scored on a 33-yard run. Facing a fourth down and two, Bitzer faked a hand-off, spun around and jetted down the left sideline.
"We took a timeout and the coaches came up with a great play," Bitzer said. "I turned the corner, saw [that] there was no one there, and took my chances. There was great blocking on the edge."
A 46-yard touchdown run by Jeremiah Cheatom with 13 seconds remaining in the third quarter gave Riverhead a 14-0 lead. Cheatom, who lost a fumble on the previous possession, had redemption on his mind as he cut across the center of the field, scoring along the left sideline.
"I made a bad decision and coughed up the ball," Cheatom said. "Next drive, all I did was put it past me and run hard."
Newfield (3-3) cut the lead to 14-7 after Joe Feliciano's three-yard touchdown run with 6:49 remaining in the game.
But, as they had all game, Riverhead's defense made big plays. The Blue Waves stopped Newfield on a fourth-and-three with 2:34 remaining, putting an end to any comeback hopes.
"This week, the defense really stepped up by playing hard [in] all four quarters," said Joseph Napoli, one of Riverhead's defensive captains.