Jesse Alfano-St. John was in the right place at the right time. Not once, but twice Alfano-St. John victimized the East Islip offense with critical takeaways for the Westhampton defense.
The outside linebacker’s interception off a deflected pass in the first quarter set up a touchdown and his 25-yard fumble return for a score capped host Westhampton’s 34-7 win over East Islip Friday night before a crowd of 1,200 in Suffolk Division III football.
It was the 14th consecutive win for the defending Long Island Class III champions.
“I’m just following my assignments and we had a great game plan in place,” said Alfano-St. John, a junior who also had a sack for a 10-yard loss. “The fumble was muffed in the backfield and it bounced right to me. And I just took off for the end zone.”
Westhampton scored on its first three possessions. The Hurricanes established a ground game early with a 14-play, 76-yard touchdown drive that lasted 6:01. Liam McIntyre bulled his way in from the one for the score and Jackson Hulse added the extra-point kick to make it 7-0 with 4:58 left.
The march was simplistic as all 14 plays were kept on the ground.
“We got smacked in the mouth early in the game last week,” Westhampton coach Brian Schaumloffel said. “And we came back to win. Tonight, I was very pleased in all three phases of the game as we came out and set the tone. We were moving them off the ball and making plays.”
After McIntyre’s opening score, Alfano-St. John intercepted a deflected pass after a big hit by Joe Cuccia jarred the ball from the receiver. The Hurricanes capitalized on the turnover three plays later when quarterback Clarke Lewis lofted a perfect pass to Aidan Cassara in tight coverage in the back of the end zone for the 21-yard touchdown.
“He put it just out of the defender’s reach,” Cassara said. “It was good coverage, but the ball was where only I could make the catch. It felt good because we worked extra after practice yesterday on routes and ball placement.”
Westhampton extended the lead on a six-play, 42-yard march punctuated by Jaden Alfano-St. John’s 3-yard touchdown run. Jaden, Jesse’s twin brother, finished with 67 yards on 13 carries. Hulse’s kick made it 21-0 with 10:34 left in the half. Left guard Dan Eckart keyed the drive with a beautiful block to get Cassara loose around the left end on a 14-yard run to the Redmen 4.
“Any time you make a big block and clean someone out it feels good,” Eckart said. “We were dominating them up front.”
East Islip responded with an impressive 14-play, 84-yard drive that lasted 9:05. The Redmen took advantage of a 26-yard pass play to Nick Peluso and a 15-yard targeting penalty to get on the board. Halfback Dylan Rigo scored from two yards out and Tom Boyd added the kick to make it 21-7 with 1:29 left in the half.
“We’re young and we’re not making enough big plays against good teams,” East Islip coach Sal J. Ciampi said. “We’re not consistent. We have good and we have bad.”
Westhampton scored on its second play of the third quarter to widen the lead. McIntyre raced 35 yards for a first down and Cassara went 30 yards for a touchdown on the next play to make it 28-7.
“We set the tone early,” said McIntyre, who had 91 yards on 13 carries. “Our defense was solid and the backfield is excellent.”