The weather couldn’t have been much worse, and the Westhampton football team couldn’t have been happier.
The top-seeded Hurricanes navigated a driving rainstorm with their ground-and-pound offense to beat No. 5 Kings Park, 33-9, on Friday in a Suffolk III semifinal.
Westhampton (10-0) has won 22 games in a row.
“It’s definitely fun sliding around out there with your teammates and just kicking butt,” running back Tyler Nolan said.
It wasn’t all fun and games for Westhampton, which trailed 9-7 entering halftime. It was the first time the Hurricanes had trailed at that point since the season opener against Eastport-South Manor.
“We went down to the locker room at halftime and I had a private talk with all our seniors in the back,” Liam McIntyre said. “We weren’t going to let this be our last game.”
McIntyre rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries and had 11 tackles and an interception at linebacker.
“This was what we were hoping for all week,” he said. “Kings Park has a great offense and throws the ball really well, so we were hoping some rain and wind would come down and help us out.”
Despite the storm that was rolling through, in the second half, the only thunder and lightning was on the field.
McIntyre imposed his will with his smashmouth running style and Jaden Alfano-St. John and Nolan provided the lightning with strong running outside the tackles.
Nolan burst down the left sideline for 59 yards on the second play of the half, and two plays later, Alfano-St. John capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run to give Westhampton the lead for good.
“We just try to keep pounding the ball and being physical up front,” Alfano-St. John said. “Our line is great and they open up holes.”
Alfano-St. John, who rushed for 90 yards on 13 carries, added another TD in the fourth quarter.
Nolan had 110 yards on 13 carries.
“Coach always says that other teams might be able to hang with us for the first half, but every time in the third and fourth quarters, teams are tired and worn down, and we just keep hitting the outside, up the middle, just driving every play,” Nolan said.
Westhampton will play the winner of Saturday’s Hills West-Sayville game in the Suffolk III final at 4 p.m. next Saturday at Stony Brook.
“I’m so proud of our guys,” McIntyre said. “We are just ready to come in here, have a great season and make our own legacy.”