The anticipated air show between two of Long Island’s top quarterbacks was dampened by whipping winds and heavy rains dumped in the area by Tropical Storm Ophelia.
Sayville adjusted well to the inclement weather.
The Golden Flashes hunkered down behind an impressive offensive line and halfback Kyle Messina to beat Half Hollow Hills West, 34-7, Saturday afternoon in a Suffolk Division III football game on Homecoming Day in Dix Hills. The win left Sayville (3-0) as the lone undefeated team in the division. Hills West fell to 3-1.
“The weather was definitely a factor and it benefited the team that could run the ball,” said Sayville coach Reade Sands. “We learned a long time ago that you need to be able to run the ball in the kind of games that dictate run or pass. The players were all on point today.”
Messina rushed for 197 yards on 26 carries and scored three touchdowns. Quarterback Jake Tripptree contributed 127 yards on 12 carries as the Golden Flashes rolled to the school’s 15th straight victory.
“The offensive line was the key to our power game,” Messina said. “The line knows if I go over 200 yards rushing that I have to buy them all burritos. It’s a great motivator. They played amazing moving Hills off the ball. It was super hard to throw because the weather was so bad, and we were straight running the ball.”
Sayville outgained Hills West, 356-20 on the ground. The first half dominance saw Sayville control the clock with a time of possession advantage of 19:26 to 4:18.
Sayville opened the game with a 12-play, 80-yard scoring march that consumed 7:26 of the first quarter. Messina carried seven times for 46 yards before Dan Holohan scored on a 5-yard run for the 6-0 lead. The Golden Flashes made a huge statement on the drive when Sands elected to go for the first down on a fourth and three from his own 27. Messina barreled through the middle of the Colts defense for four yards and a first down.
“We set the tone on the first drive,” said Sayville’s left tackle Landon Garrett. “We love to run the ball and it fires everyone up. We dominated up front. And it’s easy to make your block, knowing Kyle will find the right lane to run.”
The offensive line with Garrett, left guard Michael Caporaso, center Jackson Neugebauer, right guard Mitch Kolar and right tackle Michael Sands dictated the game tempo, bullying the Colts front.
Sayville extended the lead when Neugebauer, at the linebacker position, intercepted quarterback Joseph Filardi at the Colts 14. Two plays later, the turnover set up a Messina 5-yard scoring run and Nick Watson added the kick to make it 13-0.
Hills West opened the third quarter going into a driving rain and heavy wind and moved the ball to midfield before Tomas McCann recorded the first of his two sacks on a third down and 10 to force the Colts to punt. The Golden Flashes finished with six sacks and six tackles for a loss.
On the ensuing possession, Messina broke off one of his long signature runs on first down for a 57-yard touchdown and a 20-0 lead.
“It was an inside zone run and Landon washed everyone down and I cut it back,” Messina said. “I was smiling while I was running because it was a fun run. I shook that last tackle and dove into the end zone.”
Messina added a 7-yard score and Dan Lahmann scored on a 23-yard fumble recovery to make it 34-0 with 2:35 left.
“I was very pleased with our overall performance,” Sands said. “We shut down a dynamic offense. Our defense executed our defensive game plan perfectly.”
Filardi, who set a school record with seven passing touchdowns and 531 yards passing two weeks ago, was kept in check. He completed 12 of 34 passes for 117 yards and a short TD pass to Jesse Brooks with 51 seconds left.
Messina said he came up a little shy of the number of yards rushing to be on the hook to buy an expensive meal for his line.
“I’m going to buy them burritos anyway,” he laughed. “They earned it.”