With his team trailing by a point early in the fourth quarter, only one thing ran through Jeremiah Cheatom’s mind: He was going to carry the ball and he wasn’t going down easily ... if at all. No defense was going to cheat him out of a chance to win the game for Riverhead.
So after his 42-yard run launched an 85-yard drive, Cheatom finished it in spectacular fashion. He broke through tacklers at the line of scrimmage, raced to the right sideline and was seemingly stopped by two Smithtown West defenders at the 15.
Umm, no. “My state of mind at the time was I wasn’t going down,” Cheatom said. So be it.
He somehow planted his left arm on the ground, hung tightly to the football with his right, and escaped the grasp of two Bulls to race the final 15 yards of a 33-yard touchdown that produced the last points in Riverhead’s 23-16 victory over host Smithtown West in a Suffolk II game Friday night.
Cheatom carried 19 times for 256 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and a 67-yard dazzler in the second quarter that set up another touchdown. The Blue Waves (5-2) led 17-3 at halftime, but the Bulls (3-4) did not go down easily, either.
Quarterback Austin Kern, who began the season wearing No. 50 because he is a starting linebacker by trade, now wears No. 16 because injuries have forced him to become the starting quarterback. He completed four passes to Kyle Mathie for 57 yards on the first drive of the second half, including a nice-looking 15-yard fade for a touchdown that made it 17-10.
Later in the quarter he ran for a key first down and the Bulls, using a daring fake field-goal completion from Ryan Keenan to Anthony D’Aprile to keep the drive going, scored again on Logan Greco’s 4-yard burst. Greco finished with 97 yards on 22 carries and Kern completed 9 of 21 for 142 yards.
But the Bulls’ extra-point try was blocked.
Cheatom made his own point moments later. “I give all the credit to my offensive line,” Cheatom, a junior having a break-out season, said. “I just read the blocks and cut back. There were big holes and I took advantage by running hard.”