The bus carrying Shoreham-Wading River's football team broke down on the way to Friday night's game at Babylon, causing the Wildcats to arrive late for their encounter with the two-time defending Long Island Class IV champions, who were riding a 25-game winning streak.
That streak suffered the same fate as the yellow school bus. It came to a screeching halt.
Shoreham-Wading River used a rock-solid defense that forced three turnovers to hold off Babylon, 9-7, in a tense Suffolk IV skirmish.
"We knew we had to grind it out," Wildcats running back and linebacker Chris Rosati said.
He was the chief grinder. Rosati gained 111 tough yards on 20 carries and bounced off a tackle for a 7-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, the only scoring play until the fourth quarter. He also played a vital role on a defensive unit that wilted on only one drive.
Shoreham-Wading River (2-0), which hadn't beaten Babylon since 2005, grabbed a 9-0 lead on Dan Cassidy's 25-yard field goal with 5:35 remaining. That timely boot actually kick-started a desperate Babylon offense.
Ron Woodhull completed 4 of 5 passes on a 69-yard scoring drive that took only 1:01. His 34-yard touchdown toss to Stephen Schweitzer plus Ronnie Pashun's kick stirred the crowd, which sensed a dramatic comeback.
But Rosati didn't subscribe to that theory. Even though most of the Panthers and their fans knew the 5-9, 175-pound junior likely would be getting the ball, they couldn't stop him -- or quarterback Danny Hughes (16 carries, 61 yards) -- when they had to.
"I had total confidence in my offensive line," Rosati said.
Rosati ripped through the right side for a 15-yard gain and a first down on a third-and-5. Then Hughes carried twice more for another clock-killing first down. By the time the Panthers forced a punt, less than a minute remained.
After Woodhull misfired on two passes, sophomore defensive end Ethan Wiederkehr broke through for consecutive sacks that clinched the Wildcats' first-ever victory at Babylon, according to Wiederkehr's father, Hans. He would know. The Shoreham-Wading River assistant was the coach at Babylon when the Wildcats began their program.
"Babylon always throws the first punch, but our mind-set was that we would throw the first punch," Ethan Wiederkehr said. "We did it with that first touchdown. At the end, my adrenaline was pumping.
"I knew if I got to the quarterback, the game was over."
So was Long Island's longest current winning streak.