Lindenhurst's John McCaffery (18) and Steven Ramirez (81) celebrate a...

Lindenhurst's John McCaffery (18) and Steven Ramirez (81) celebrate a touchdown in the second quarter during the Suffolk High School Division I football semifinal playoff game between Lindenhurst and Connetquot, played on Friday, Nov 13, 2015 at Lindenhurst Middle School. Credit: Bob Sorensen

For the first time in the 81-year history of Lindenhurst football, the Bulldogs reached 10 wins Friday. As the news circulated on the sideline before the final whistle of a 31-7 win over Connetquot in a Suffolk I semifinal, there was some nodding, some acknowledgment, but no celebrations. Not yet.

"10-0 is an unbelievable feeling," linebacker Bobby Bove said, "but it's not our goal. 12-0 is our goal."

With another dominant performance by quarterback Ryan Hofmann (13-for-25 passing for 242 yards and four touchdowns), No. 1 Lindenhurst (10-0) advanced to the Suffolk I final against No. 2 Longwood at noon on Nov. 22 at Stony Brook.

It's a game the Bulldogs won for the second time last year (they shared the crown with West Islip in 1972). But this season is different.

"You can just see it," Bove said. "Last year, when we went to the Suffolk championship, we stormed the field. It's just a different vibe. A Long Island championship is our goal. Until we get that, we're not satisfied."

The Bulldogs' 35-13 loss to Syosset in the Long Island Class I title game last year remains fresh in their minds.

"I texted our coach after that game," said Jeremy Ruckert, who caught five passes for 104 yards and a TD Friday. "I said, 'We're never going to lose that game again. I never want to feel like that ever again.' "

Added coach Nick Lombardo: "That's the thing about this group. They believe there's more. They're not settling."

On the opening drive, Hofmann completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Joe Palmeri as Lindenhurst took a 7-0 lead.

No. 4 Connetquot (6-4) tied the score early in the second quarter when Jack Richardson ran 14 yards for a TD to cap a 12-play, 43-yard drive.

But Hofmann was just getting started. On Lindenhurst's ensuing drive, he found Steven Ramirez slanting over the middle. The receiver used a burst of speed to get to the outside before outrunning the defense for a 55-yard touchdown.

Ruckert's 39-yard field goal gave Lindenhurst a 17-7 lead with five minutes left in the second quarter.

With less than a minute left in the first half, Hofmann faked a run and threw to Palmeri in the back left corner of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown and a 24-7 lead.

After Bove and Gino Bonagura tackled quarterback Jack Cassidy to force a turnover on downs on Connetquot's first possession of the second half, Lindenhurst struck again: Hofmann to Ruckert for a 56-yard TD that made it 31-7.

John Palmeri had an interception in the third quarter and Joe Barber gained 96 yards on 11 carries.

"We're all going for the bigger goal, the LIC," Hofmann said. "We're all just going for it. This year we want the title."

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