This was a playoff atmosphere in the middle of October. Unbeaten and top-ranked Connetquot at No. 2 Longwood, a program searching for the roar that made it a feared program in Suffolk's rugged Division I between its championship seasons of 1998 and 2004.
It was a packed house, fans lined around the field, cars parked out beyond the school lot and to top it all -- homecoming day in Middle Island.
The Lions' roar is officially back. Senior halfback Isaiah White, behind a punishing offensive line, rumbled for 273 yards on 33 carries and one score as Longwood edged Connetquot, 14-13, for its fifth straight win in Suffolk I before a crowd of more than 2,000.
Connetquot's Jack Cassidy scored on a 1-yard run with 6:41 left to get within 14-13 but Malcolm Stowe charged untouched through the T-Birds' line to force the extra-point kick to go wide left and avoid overtime. Stowe came through the guard-center hole to disrupt Jake Piccinnini's attempt.
"Every week is a statement game for us," Longwood first-year coach Jeff Cipp said. "We were a 3-6 team last year and I want them to take it one game at a time and not look forward and not look back. I'm very proud of these guys to come out and beat the top-ranked team on Long Island."
A defensive tone was set early. Longwood forced a three-and-out on Connetquot's first possession and after a short punt, took over at the T-Birds' 38. Four plays later, White bulled his way into the end zone on a 3-yard run with 8:55 left for a 6-0 lead. He carried all four plays, including a 19-yarder to the 3.
"The O-line is doing a great job and I'm not allowing the first tackler to take me down," White said. "Yards after contact is a big thing with me."
Connetquot (4-1) responded on its next drive. The T-Birds went 70 yards in eight plays before halfback Jack Richardson scored from a yard out with 5:48 left. Piccininni added the kick and the T-Birds led 7-6. Richardson carried for 49 yards.
"The Connetquot line is very good," Cipp said. "But overall, we outplayed them."
The Lions managed an 11-play, 85-yard march in 5:11 to take a 14-7 lead. Quarterback Marquis Simpson capped the drive with a 20-yard TD pass to an uncovered Stowe on third-and-5. Simpson sold the play fake and made the perfect throw. White added the two-point conversion behind crushing blocks from Eric Saunders and Anthony Lavio.
The third quarter was a physical affair in which both teams forced turnovers. Austin Pinto recovered a fumble on Longwood's first possession of the third quarter.
The T-Birds couldn't move the football but punter Dan Lewis flipped the field position with a 72-yard punt to the Longwood 5.
That's where White took over. He rushed seven times for 77 yards behind tackle Matt Weiss to the T-Birds' 3. On first-and-goal, Jake Elenterio recovered a fumble at the T-Birds' 1-foot line.
On first down, Richardson, who finished with 105 yards on 16 carries, popped through the line for 35 yards. Two plays later, Cassidy threw the first of two critical interceptions.
"We were swarming," White said. "There was no time to throw back there."
Longwood special teams were also flying to the ball. Richardson fielded a punt at the T-Birds' 18, broke two tackles and juked into the open field before Michael Scalice lowered the boom at the 42, causing the Longwood sideline to erupt.
It was a day to roar.