It’s not often that a player returns an interception 98 yards but doesn’t score. But count West Islip defensive back Pat Mulcahy among those who’ve achieved such a distinction.
Mulcahy stepped in front of Newfield’s Isaiah Israel and jumped a slant route to make a goal line interception late in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s Suffolk II showdown of unbeatens.
The 6-3 defensive back followed an entourage led by 6-4, 270-pound Tim Mullane down the visitors’ sideline. As Mulcahy neared the end zone, Newfield quarterback Tom Long made the tackle preventing a 100-yard return for a touchdown with 2:51 left.
No matter, Mulcahy’s theft sealed host West Islip’s 41-14 win over Newfield in a pivotal Suffolk II football game. West Islip halfback Drew Cestaro scored his third touchdown of the game on the very next play as the Lions ended Newfield’s 14-game win streak.
“I did want the touchdown and I was disappointed he got to my legs before I scored,” the good-natured Mulcahy laughed. “Coach [Steve] Mileti signaled slant and I jumped the pass. There were some good blocks out front. But you know the win is really all that counts.”
West Islip (3-0) used the ground game to finally pull away from the Wolverines with 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. Cestaro rushed 13 times for 119 yards and touchdown runs of 5, 16 and 2. Junior quarterback Jake Guercio added 113 yards on 15 carries and backup quarterback Antonio Alicea scored on a 30-yard run.
“We can put it to teams on the ground,” Mileti said. “But we have to find some balance in the offense. We had to overcome quite a few penalties today and the players never really got discouraged. Sometimes that kind of adversity can be hard to overcome. I was proud of the way they focused.”
Newfield (2-1), the defending Long Island Class II champions, saw the end of the longest win streak in school history. The Wolverines were plagued by special team mistakes and more than 100 yards in penalties.
West Islip jumped to a 14-0 first quarter lead after the Newfield punting game failed.
The first score was bizarre. The long snap sailed over the head of Newfield punter Tom Robinson and West Islip’s Jake Richter gave chase. Robinson beat Richter to the ball, but Richter had other ideas, ripping the ball from Robinson’s grasp and running five yards for the stunning touchdown. Kevin DiCapua kicked the point-after and West Islip led 7-0 with 4:09 left in the first.
“Our defense made some huge plays and set the tone for the game,” Mileti said.
On Newfield’s next possession, defensive tackle James Romano flushed Long from the pocket for a 16-yard sack. Faced with a fourth down and 26 and punting from his end zone, Robinson avoided a punt block but the kick only went 13 yards. Four plays later, Guercio went option left and pitched to Cestaro for the 5-yard touchdown run. DiCapua’s kick made it 14-0 with 33 seconds left in the quarter.
Long answered with a 67-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ryan Bergholm to make it 14-7 with 9:55 left in the half. DiCapua hit a 23-yard field goal as time expired in the half for a 17-7 lead. He also kicked a 27-yarder in the third quarter.
“We’re young and banged up and we need to get healthy,” said Newfield coach Joe Piccininni. “We made too many mistakes against a very good team.”
Robinson got a little special teams revenge in the third quarter to help the Wolverines pull within 20-14. He blocked and recovered a West Islip punt at the 37. Israel scored seven plays later on a 4-yard run on the final play of the third quarter.
It was all West Islip from there.