On offense and defense, Nick Garone was a showstopper.
He helped Eastport-South Manor beat Harborfields, 35-28, in a Suffolk III homecoming thriller in Manorville Saturday.
The senior running back scored all five Sharks touchdowns to lead his team to a 3-0 record for the first time in the program's 12-year history. He rushed for 154 yards and four scores and added a 35-yard touchdown reception.
"Nicky did a great job for us," coach Bill Ashton said. "He's a tank."
Garone was the catalyst on offense, especially during stretches when the Sharks had trouble stringing together first downs. Despite the high score, this was a defensive affair.
Harborfields went into the half leading 28-21, with quarterback Cody Cunningham passing for 180 yards and three TDs.
The Sharks' secondary was unable to anticipate the receivers' routes and the defensive front offered little pressure, allowing Cunningham to pick them apart. Ashton said he made a few tweaks in the locker room that changed the course of the game.
"We made a couple of adjustments on the line and it worked out," he said. "He's a great quarterback."
Garone also praised Cunningham. "He's fast; he's shifty," said Garone, who led the team with 15 tackles. "We were saying all week we just had to keep him contained. In the second half, we controlled him."
The third quarter started slowly for both offenses, with each team punting twice before Garone took control. A 23-yard pass from Matt Kane to Mark Pace set up the Sharks at the Tornadoes' 20-yard line and Garone took the next handoff for a score to tie the game.
It was nearly 15 minutes until the next TD, which proved to be the decider.
Chris Sparacino intercepted a pass by Cunningham -- who also was intercepted on the previous drive by Garone -- and returned it to the Tornadoes' 45-yard line. The next three plays were all runs by Garone, who finally punched it in from 10 yards with 32.6 seconds remaining.
A sea of silver and navy erupted in the stands after Cunningham was picked again as the clock struck zero, this time by Brandon Stiles.
Not to be lost in the team effort was the special teams. On two kicks, punter Pace pinned the Tornadoes at the 3- and 5-yard lines. Field position was crucial in stopping Harborfields' high-octane offense.
"The offense stalled a few times, and the special teams were huge," Kane said. "We'd be in our zone, and then we'd steal momentum and put them deep in their zone."
While Garone will make the headlines, Kane thought everyone on the field had a hand in the victory. "You just have to believe in every single guy on the team," Kane said.