Hard to believe this was a scoreless game at halftime, lacking in offensive excitement.
Sayville and Islip made up for that by packing a season's worth of drama into the second half - and beyond - of last night's Suffolk Division III championship game at Stony Brook University's LaValle Stadium.
In fact, the closing act didn't come until the end of the third overtime period, when Sayville sophomore John Haggart carried five straight times, finally barreling in from the 2 for a 26-20 victory over Islip.
The Golden Flashes broke through first in the third quarter when Steven Ferreira's 50-yard pass to Tom Hannon set up Haggart's four-yard TD run with 3:53 left in the period. The Bucs tied it on the second play of the fourth quarter when Jeffrey Craig found R.J. Going deep down the middle on a third-and-18 for a stunning 88-yard TD pass.
Sayville broke the 7-7 tie on a 49-yard pass from Ferreira to James Rupp down the left sideline. The extra point made it 14-7.
Sayville's defense, which was riddled in a 41-13 regular-season loss to Islip (9-2), was outstanding all night, matching Islip's. Sayville forced the Bucs into a three-and-out and then appeared to have the Bucs reeling with a fourth-and-13 at the Sayville 48 with 2:43 left.
But Craig's desperation pass to Going bounced off Going's chest right into the arms of Johnny Maher, who raced into the end zone to complete the stunning 48-yard touchdown. Eric Rosenthal's extra point tied it.
Sayville drove to the Islip 18 in the waning seconds, but Haggart's 35-yard field-goal try was just short, forcing overtime.
In overtime, where all possessions begin at the defensive team's 20-yard line, Craig scored on a 9-yard run, but Rosenthal's PAT was blocked by Haggart. Haggart answered with a 9-yard TD run of his own, but his kick was also blocked, by Shea Mullins, leaving it 20-20.
In the second overtime, Haggart fumbled and Joe Sciara recovered, giving Islip the ball, by rule, on the Sayville 20.
After a holding call on Islip, Maher gained 10 yards to the 20. Craig ran up the middle on third down to the Sayville 17. On third-and-7, Maher took an inside handoff and was stopped after a 4-yard game.
Rosenthal, a freshman soccer player, then just missed a 31-yarder that went wide left.
In the third OT session, Islip appeared ready to get a first down inside the 10 on Craig's pass into the right flat to Maher. But Richard Millwater made a superb open-field tackle to stop Maher at the 13. This time, Islip eschewed the field-goal try and went for the first down. Craig delivered with a stutter-step move to the inside that gave the Bucs a first-and goal at the 9.
Joe Sabbatino carried up the middle for a gain of 4 and Craig was held to 1 yard on second down. On third-and-goal, Rupp intercepted Craig's pass in the end zone, opening a door for the Golden Flashes. This time, Haggart ran through it.