It was an up-and-down first half for Babylon in the Suffolk Division IV championship game in which it defeated Glenn, 46-21.
Babylon built a 19-0 lead just seven minutes into the game, but a myriad of penalties by the Panthers and big plays by Glenn helped to close the gap.
It was no surprise that Babylon relied on one of its electric playmakers to help create separation from the tough Knights. But it wasn't quarterback Nick Santorelli, nor halfback Eric Schweitzer or even dynamic wide receiver Jake Carlock who came up with the two biggest plays for the Panthers.
It was unsung senior running back Luke Zappia who provided Babylon with two huge touchdown runs. Zappia entered the game with 230 yards and four touchdowns on the ground all season -- but with just two carries in the first half, he compiled 111 yards and two TDs.
Zappia, who finished with five carries for 122 yards, opened the scoring when he capped Babylon's opening seven-play, 75-yard drive with a 34-yard run. Carlock caught a 21-yard TD pass from Santorelli and Ray Wardell added a 46-yard interception return to complete the 19-0 start.
Glenn fought back the rest of the half, finally closing to within 19-14. After the Babylon defense forced Glenn to go three-and-out late in the second quarter Zappia struck again, this time scoring on a 77-yard run.
Zappia saved his best for the biggest stage -- he accumulated 121 yards and two touchdowns in Babylon's previous three games, including two in the playoffs.
Babylon had 84 yards in penalties in a first half in which the Panthers seemed out of sync. It was Zappia who put the Panthers out in front before the rest of Babylon's usual suspects were able to break out.