A cold wind forced a concentration on the running game for both teams Friday night as East Islip beat Westhampton, 39-29, in a Suffolk Division III semifinal football game.
East Islip quarterback Kyle Fleitman and running back Justin Taveras were an unstoppable 1-2 punch on the ground, denying tacklers and accumulating a lot of yards after contact. Fleitman rushed for 353 yards and three touchdowns and Taveras ran for 150 yards and three touchdowns.
“Running the ball wasn’t real ly the plan, but when your line is working like that, you don’t stop,” Fleitman said.
The Redmen (8-2) will meet the winner of the Sayville–Rocky Point semifinal for the Suffolk III championship at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium on Thursday at 7 p.m. East Islip will be making its ninth title appearance in 11 years.
The Redmen piled it on early and often. Taveras capped the first of many run-only drives with an 18-yard touchdown run up the gut and Fleitman followed with a scoring rush minutes later, making the score 13-0 with 1:57 left in the first quarter after a missed extra-point kick.
Dylan Laube of Westhampton (8-2), who rushed for 123 yards, scored on a 48-yard run to make it 13-7. After East Islip extended its lead to 39-14, Long Island’s top rusher scored the final two touchdowns of the game and finished with 40 this season, third most in Long Island history.
The Redmen put together an efficient seven-minute drive capped by another quarterback sneak from Fleitman for a 20-7 lead with 4:09 remaining in the half.
“We played with a chip on our shoulders,” said guard Kyle Nunez, who led an unstoppable offensive line. “No one believed in us, but we did.”
Taveras scored on a 26-yard run with 4:59 left in the third quarter. Fleitman followed with a 71-yard TD run for a 33-7 lead.
After Zach Arrastate scored on an 18-yard run for Westhampton, East Islip answered with another big Taveras score, this time from 35 yards to make it 39-14 with 6:46 left.
“We had a big plan all week in practice and we followed it,” Fleitman said. “We’re looking forward to next week.”