Northport QB Owen Johansen gets the pass off against Smithtown...

Northport QB Owen Johansen gets the pass off against Smithtown West in a Suffolk Division II game Friday at Smithtown West. Credit: George A Faella

Smithtown West had to make a change with the head of its football program during the summer.

Coach Ron Muscarella suffered a stroke in late June, and assistant coach Craig Perrino was named the interim leader for this season.

“Coach Perrino has done a tremendous job keeping the program going and operating at a high level,” athletic director Jason Lambert said. “We wish Coach Muscarella the best and look forward to him rejoining us in a full capacity.”

The players would have loved to win their opener Friday night for Muscarella and Perrino, but in the end, their big comeback fell short in a 34-30 loss to Northport in a Suffolk Division II game.

Owen Johansen threw two touchdown passes to Andrew Miller and Giancarlo Valenti rushed for two scores for visiting Northport, which entered as the second seed in the Suffolk II preseason rankings. The Bulls were seeded eighth.

Northport started off with a bang when Emmett Radziul’s 30-yard punt return set up the Tigers at the Bulls’ 30 for their first drive. The drive concluded with Johansen connecting with Miller for a 21-yard score.

Another punt return by Radziul set up the Tigers at the Bulls’ 40 for the second drive. Johansen hit Miller with a 9-yard touchdown pass to put the Tigers up 13-0.

Smithtown’s Landon Schneider got three back with a 27-yard field goal early in the second quarter, but Andrew DeMarco capped the ensuing drive with a 2-yard TD plunge for a 20-3 Northport lead.

That shrunk to 20-16 by intermission when Stahl found Jacque LaPrarie in the back of the end zone for a 22-yard TD, then hit a wide-open Jack Melore down the middle for a 25-yard score.

After Northport pushed its lead back to 11 points in the third, Brian Hope cut it to 27-22 with a 4-yard rushing score with 10:29 left in the fourth.

Valenti responded with an 11-yard TD run to put the Tigers ahead by 12, but the Bulls weren’t done.

Brayden Stahl, who threw for 267 yards and three touchdowns, fired a 4-yard TD pass to Nick Briffa. Stahl then passed to LaPrarie for the two-point conversion to make it 34-30 with 2:59 left.

Smithtown West, though, never got the ball back.

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