Babylon, trailing by nine points at halftime, needed a spark if it was going to overtake Port Jefferson. Enter quarterback Justin Vega.
Vega ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns, plus a two-point conversation, and added two completions for another 33 yards in the Panthers’ 28-21 victory Saturday in Suffolk IV.
“Vega coming off the bench gave us the spark we needed,” coach Rick Punzone said after his team improved to 3-0. “He ran the ball well and we needed that.”
Quarterback Jack Collins threw touchdown passes of 5 and 50 yards for Port Jefferson, which also got a safety in its dominant first half.
“Port Jefferson was fired up today,” Punzone said. “They played a great game and we had our hands full.”
Gejuan Booker, playing with a hip injury according to Punzone, provided an additional spark. He began the third quarter with a 98-yard fumble recovery, stripping the ball from Port Jeff on fourth-and-goal.
“This is Booker’s fifth touchdown this season and he played hurt,” Punzone said.
Later, Vega’s 42-yard run put the Panthers on top 22-15.
Port Jefferson’s Thomas Mark score cut the deficit to 22-21 with a 32-yard interception return, but the two-point run failed.
Vega came through again with the final scoring play on a 12-yard run.
Aidan LaRock sealed the victory for the Panthers, making an interception with two minutes remaining in the fourth.
“Hats off to Port Jeff, really,” Punzone said. “They played inspired football.”