Sayville's quick-strike offense was invisible until the third quarter Saturday, throttled by a Miller Place defense that took away the Golden Flashes' downfield passing game.
That all changed, however. Quickly and strikingly.
The first lightning bolt came with 3:56 left in the third, when Jack Coan found Mike Dionisio on a deep slant that became a 75-yard touchdown when Dionisio broke two tackles with a stiff-arm maneuver.
The second strike came when Coan turned thespian early in the fourth quarter. He made a ball fake, stood statue-still in the pocket, hiding the ball slickly on his right hip, and hit Jake Kolar wide open down the middle for a 66-yard scoring play.
Coan, Kolar and Dionisio are all juniors, friends for years who are beginning to ace their chemistry exams as part of Coan's new fleet of receivers for 2015.
The formula is working as defending county champion Sayville defeated Miller Place, 41-9, in a Suffolk III game played before a packed crowd at Sayville.
"We planned for it. We knew they would try to take away our downfield passes," Sayville coach Rob Hoss said. "We concentrated on running and looking for the underneath routes. We forced them to bring their safeties up and then we threw it over the top."
Coan was a model of efficiency, completing 16 of 19 for 286 yards and four touchdowns, while also leading Sayville in rushing with 55 yards on 14 carries. Kolar caught seven for 116 yards and two scores while Dionisio grabbed four for 125 yards.
Neither had started at wide receiver before this season. They are coming of age. "We are improving each week," Kolar said.
"We all want the same thing. We all want that ring," Dionisio said, alluding to the Long Island championship.
Kolar, who caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Coan in the first quarter to complete a 13-play, 74-yard drive that consumed 6:29, was a late choice for his 66-yard score. "It was going to be a running play but coach Hoss changed it at the last second," Kolar said. "The safety came down the field and Jack made a beautiful throw."
Miller Place had a quick-strike touchdown of its own, as Stephen Farrell hit Tom Bell for a 65-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage of the second half that cut the Panthers' deficit to 21-9. Bell also returned a punt 70 yards to the Sayville 9 early in the fourth quarter, but Miller Place could not finish the drive, missing a field goal.
Sayville took advantage. "As the game went on, I had plenty of time and our receivers started beating them inside," Coan said.
Of his sleight-of-hand play and connection with Kolar on third-and-1 from the Sayville 34, Coan said, "We break that out every once in a while, usually when it's a running situation. I guess I was a good actor."
Hoss, the director, approved of Coan's stage presence. "He executed it perfectly. He's got to play possum and stand limp in the pocket like the play is over."
Clearly, it was not.