Coach Kyle Madden saw the Lyte -- and he liked what he saw. Halfback Ray Lyte gave Half Hollow Hills West a needed jolt in the second half after the Colts squandered a two-touchdown lead and trailed Riverhead by seven. Lyte carried 11 times for 91 yards and two second-half touchdowns as host Hills West upset top-seeded Riverhead, 42-28, Wednesday night in a pivotal Suffolk II football game.
Lyte's 3-yard scoring burst capped a 10-play, 71-yard march and gave the Colts a 35-28 lead with 11:03 remaining. With overcast skies and most of the fourth quarter played in darkness, it was Lyte's hard running that keyed the win.
"We have a lot of skill guys and when it's your turn you need to play well," said Lyte, who didn't have a carry in the first half. "Coach Madden has a lot of options which makes us a dangerous team."
Hills West (4-0) used a pair of big plays to take a two-touchdown lead with 10:25 left in the half. Junior quarterback Anthony Lucarelli fired a 30-yard TD pass to a streaking Alex Filacouris for the opening score with 1:43 left in the first quarter. After Hills West forced a punt, Filacouris, on a third-and-6, went over the left side and cut back against the grain for an 89-yard scoring run and the 14-0 lead. Filacouris finished with 217 all-purpose yards and three scores.
But Riverhead (3-1) took advantage of poor special teams play to get back in the game. Hills West allowed a Dylan Pace 58-yard punt to roll to its 7 and then failed to move the ball. Riverhead scored five plays later on a Ryun Moore's 1-yard run to make it 14-7.
On the next drive, Madden, in a regrettable call, went for it on a fourth-and-2 and power back Lucas DiGiorgi was stopped short of the first down at the Hills 37 with 2:20 left.
"Oh boy, the book says don't do it, and I gambled and did it," said Madden with a laugh. "I believe in our guys and wanted to keep the ball away from Riverhead."
Riverhead seized the opportunity and Moore capped the short drive with a 2-yard scoring run with 27 seconds left to head into the half tied at 14.
The Riverhead defense kept the momentum to open the second half, sacking Lucarelli on consecutive plays to force a punt after a three-and-out.
Moore, who finished with 134 yards on 28 carries, went 19 yards on the first play and then busted loose on a 46-yard run to the 1 yard-line. After a loss of 5, Mitchell scored from 6 yards and Riverhead had reeled off 21 points to enjoy its first lead. Nico Bossey added the kick for a 21-14 lead with 7:51 left.
That's when Madden saw the Lyte and gave him the ball in nine of the Colts' next 13 running plays. That decision came just in time as Lyte scored on a 20-yard run to punctuate a six-play, 77-yard drive to tie it at 21.
On the following possession, Lyte's 11-yard run set up Lucarelli's 37-yard scoring pass to Jordan Cameron for a short-lived 28-21 lead. Mitchell took the ensuing kickoff 82 yards to the house to tie it at 28 before Lucarelli, who completed 8 of 10 passes for 182 yards and two scores, orchestrated the winning march.
"We made some correctable mistakes and had some mental errors," Riverhead coach Leif Shay said. "But Lyte's a speed guy and we had no answer for him. He was the difference."