The roll dodge! Chris Gray used the fundamental lacrosse move to perfection on his fourth and final touchdown run late in the fourth quarter to seal Shoreham-Wading River’s third straight Suffolk Division IV football title on Saturday night.
Gray followed blocks from tight end Ethan Wiederkehr and tackle Dean Stalzer into the secondary, then put a sweet spin move on a Babylon defensive back for a 15-yard touchdown run with 7:26 left in the game.
Gray’s fourth touchdown gave Shoreham-Wading River a 13-point lead in its 36-21 victory over previously undefeated Babylon before a crowd of more than 2,600 at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium.
Two-time defending Class IV champion Shoreham-Wading River (9-2) will meet Seaford (11-0) for the Long Island Class IV crown at LaValle Stadium next Sunday at 4:30 p.m.
Shoreham-Wading River will attempt to become the fourth team in LIC history to win three titles in a row, and if the Wildcats accomplish that feat, Gray figures to play a big role.
He was a workhorse Saturday night, rushing for 341 yards on 44 carries and gaining 176 yards after contact. “The offensive line was amazing,” he said. “They were getting such a big push.”
“We came to play and we opened some huge holes for Gray to get into the secondary,” Wiederkehr said. “He’s scary in the open field.”
While Gray ran all over the Babylon defense, Wiederkehr led the Wildcats’ defense against scrambling quarterback Scott Sasso.
Wiederkehr split double- teams to pressure Sasso and wreak havoc on the Panthers’ offense, finishing with 12 tackles and a forced fumble.
“I came out here on a mission,” Wiederkehr said. “We were missing our middle linebacker, Ethan Baumack, and we knew we had to play at a high level.”
On one third-quarter play in which Wiederkehr sacked Sasso, all that was visible was hands and feet as Sasso was buried beneath all of the Northwestern-bound defensive tackle’s 295 pounds.
Babylon coach Rick Punzone was proud of his 5-8 quarterback, who withstood the pounding to complete 10 of 21 passes for 158 yards and three touchdowns.
“They beat us up and ran all over us tonight,” Punzone said. “And their defense put a lot of pressure on us.”
Shoreham-Wading River opened the scoring with a seven-play, 97-yard scoring drive capped by Gray’s 22-yard run. Tyler McAuley’s kick made it 7-0 with 5:32 left in the first quarter. Gray’s 50-yard run to the Babylon 27 set up the touchdown.
Babylon’s Jason Carlock returned the ensuing kickoff 64 yards to the Wildcats’ 27. On fourth-and-8, Sasso fired a 25-yard scoring pass to Shaun Kaminski to make it 7-6.
Shoreham took a 14-6 lead with a 40-yard drive keyed by Gray’s 18-yard run and punctuated by quarterback Kevin Cutinella’s 11-yard touchdown run.
“It’s unimaginable what our backs can do because of our line,” said Cutinella, who rushed for 72 yards on 11 carries. “We are grateful for them. They keep pounding away and it’s a blessing to have them.”
Babylon responded with an eight-play, 70-yard drive. Sasso hit Carlock for 30 yards before Kaminski made a spectacular one-handed catch for his second touchdown, this one for 22 yards. Zach Amelia hit Ken Rohl with the two-point conversion pass to tie it at 14 at the half.
Gray’s 40-yard touchdown run on the first possession of the third quarter made it 21-14. Then the Wildcats capitalized on Joe Miller’s interception and 13-yard return as Gray scored on a 10-yard run over right tackle for a 28-14 lead.
Sasso hit Kaminski in stride for a 51-yard touchdown to make it 28-21 with 1:36 left in the third quarter, but that’s as close as the Panthers would get, thanks to Gray’s fourth touchdown.