Joe Rende and his Babylon football teammates have felt slighted all season. But all the Panthers do is keep winning.
Gejuan Booker ran the second half kickoff 85 yards for his second touchdown of the game. He also added a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery as Babylon shut out Miller Place in the second half and earned a tough 28-14 Suffolk IV win Thursday night.
“We’ve been saying all year that we’ve been disrespect,” said Rende, who had 82 yards rushing on 12 carries. “We were the (preseason) five seed, people say we don’t have anybody good on our team, but now we’ve beaten the one seed (Miller Place) by 14 points.”
Babylon (4-0) scored early on to a 16-yard touchdown pass from Rende to Booker. Rende later found Aidan LaRock with a 6-yard scoring pass to take a 14-0 lead.
But Miller Place’s Anthony Seymour threw second-quarter touchdown passes to Jordan Syperski (45 yards) and Tom Nealis (65 yards) to tie the score at 14.
Babylon coach Rick Punzone credited defensive coordinator Coach Bill Singleton for making a “slight adjustment” with the Panthers’ run defense.
“Once we stopped their run game,” Punzone said, “we made them one-dimensional.”
Booker gave Babylon the lift it needed with his kickoff return to open the second half. Justin
Vega scored from 3 yards out in the fourth quarter to close the scoring.
Both teams had a short week, and were missing players, but Punzone credited his team for their next-man-up attitude.
“I think the kids they believed they could win,” Punzone said. “All they kept thinking was, ‘Next guy in.’ ”
The Panthers defense blanked a solid Miller Place team in the second half. So much for Babylon’s demise according to Rende.
“Babylon hasn’t really left,” Rende said, “and we’ll be there in the long run.”