Angelo DeVita just smiled.
During Patchogue-Medford’s practice on Monday, the senior running back kept hearing the same words over and over again: ground and pound. DeVita had a good inclination that he would be a critical part of the Raiders’ game plan.
After his first run in Saturday’s Suffolk Division I quarterfinal against No. 5 Ward Melville — an 11-yard dive — the feeling grew even stronger.
“I knew I had to keep going as hard as I could,” DeVita said. “I had to carry the team on my back.”
Behind a dominant offensive line, DeVita was an absolute battering ram for the Raiders. The 5-10, 195-pounder ran for 192 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries as host Patchogue-Medford defeated Ward Melville, 35-23.
Fourth-seeded Patchogue-Medford (7-2) faces No. 1 Floyd at 1 p.m. Saturday in a semifinal. Not bad for a Raiders program that went winless a year ago.
“We’ve had a goal since January of making the playoffs,” DeVita said. “No one was loud and spoke up last season. This year, the seniors made sure we talked.”
There wasn’t much need for talking on Saturday. Pat-Med had a 21-17 halftime lead and DeVita got things going on the first drive of the second half when he ran 21 yards around the right side for a score. The Raiders led 28-17 after a kick from Jack Montalvo (5-for-5 on PATs) just 1:12 into the third quarter.
The Patriots’ Steven Germain returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards to the Raiders’ 21-yard line. Germain threw a 19-yard halfback pass for a TD to Travis Moehringer. The two-point conversion run failed and the Raiders’ lead was 28-23 with 9:17 left in the third quarter. Germain was a one-man show. He accounted for 282 all-purpose yards including an 84-yard kickoff return for a score.
After Ward Melville (4-5) recovered an onside kick, Pat-Med’s Anthony Senecal stalled a Patriots’ drive with an interception at the Raiders’ 16. The Pat-Med offense then went on a 13-play, 84-yard march that culminated on DeVita’s fourth TD of the afternoon, a 5-yard run.
The Raiders’ offensive line, including Eric Suda, John Salerno, Brendan Wassmer, Matthew Koliner, Michael Riccobono, Christopher Isselbacher, and ends Connor Hughes and Aidan McBride made life easy for DeVita, running back Vincent Cassella (53 yards on 5 carries) and quarterback Tyree Jackson (7-for-10 passing, 101 yards and a score).
“We just try to form a wall for our backs,” said Suda, a 6-6, 240-pound two-way lineman who had two sacks. “We have guys who are capable of finding space and making plays.”
Few better than DeVita on Saturday.
“Everyone worked hard and did their jobs,” he said. “Our line stepped up, and I had a heck of a game because of them.”