Lindenhurst RB Dominick Artale takes the handoff to the outside...

Lindenhurst RB Dominick Artale takes the handoff to the outside for a big gain against Bellport during a Suffolk Division II football game on Saturday at Bellport. Credit: George A Faella

Dominick Artale read the play perfectly. And his timing was impeccable. Bellport held a four-point lead and threatened to extend that advantage, driving inside the Lindenhurst 5-yard line midway through the third quarter.

Bellport quarterback Justin Miles looked right and fired an out pattern to his receiver inside the 5. Artale, sprinting from his defensive back position, read the quarterback and jumped the route.

Interception!

Artale raced 96 yards down the home sideline, chased by at least one Bellport player the entire way, for the go-ahead score. The 12-point swing propelled Lindenhurst to a 23-19 win over host Bellport in a pivotal Suffolk Division II football game Saturday.

“They were going in for a two-score lead and we made the big play,” Lindenhurst coach Nick Lombardo said. “That’s what we do. I’m not surprised at Artale’s pick and the run. He’s a track athlete and runs the 100 in the spring. We were very tough in the red zone.”

It's all about the Dawgs' defense in Lindenhurst. Bellport drove deep inside the red zone three times in the first three quarters only to be denied.

The third denial was a game changer.

“I read the quarterback and knew I could get there in time to make a play on the ball,” Artale said. “And there was no way anyone was catching me.”  

Artale’s pick-six gave Lindenhurst a 9-7 lead with 5:59 left in the third quarter.

“We lost the game in the red zone when we failed to finish on a few drives,” Bellport coach Jamie Fabian said. “Our quarterback is learning, and he’ll only get better, and we’ll improve in that area. And Lindenhurst really played well in big situations and made plays.”

Miles started the game with a beautifully thrown 67-yard touchdown pass down the middle of the field to wide receiver Tyler Burke for a 7-0 lead with 9:31 left in the first quarter.

He drove the Clippers to the Lindenhurst 14, where the drive stalled after two short runs and two incomplete passes into the end zone.

It was the first of two consecutive red zone stops by the Dawgs' defense. On the second stop, defensive back Chris Carson charged through a full-house backfield on a fourth-and-goal run from the 4-yard line and corralled halfback Donte Phillips for a 3-yard loss to the 7.

"I move around a lot on defense,” Carson said. “And it gives me some opportunities to make plays.”

“Carson is one of the best two-way players on Long Island,” Lombardo said. “He gets after it on defense and he’s unstoppable on the offense.”

Lindenhurst used the momentum from another big stop to put together a nine-play, 93-yard scoring march. Jack Mazziotti hit a 21-yard field goal with 1:23 left in the half to make it 7-3.

After the interception return gave Lindy the lead, the Lindy defense shut down the next Bellport drive with consecutive quarterback sacks from sophomore Martin Pusey and junior Ian Webb.

The Dawgs extended the lead with a six-play, 61-yard drive capped by a Christian Capogna 3-yard scoring run to make it 16-7 with 25 seconds left in the third quarter. Capogna completed 11 of 19 passes for 173 yards in the game.

Bellport cut the deficit to 16-13 when Phillips scored on a 3-yard run with 6:22 left. Phillips, who battled a groin injury, managed 135 yards on 21 carries.

Brady Dolan’s 5-yard TD run gave the Dawgs a 23-13 lead with 2:20 left but there was no quit in Bellport. Miles found Jason Hunt for a 27-yard TD pass with 1:05 left to make it 23-19. Lindenhurst recovered the onside kick to seal the win.

“This was a huge win and gives us a lot of momentum,” said Carson, who also caught five passes for 101 yards. “I thought we played well.”    

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