New players, old results for Sayville football.
Junior Matthew Selts scored four touchdowns and ran for 186 yards as the three-time defending Suffolk III champions upset top seed and previously unbeaten host Miller Place, 35-27, Saturday afternoon in a semifinal.
Sayville plays Huntington for the conference title at SUNY Stony Brook at 7 p.m. Saturday
It was the fourth straight win for Sayville (6-4), which graduated 30 players from last year and entered the playoffs as the seventh seed.
"This is the most proud of a team I've ever been," Sayville coach Robert Hoss said. "We were 2-4 and on our way out [of the playoffs] and look at us now."
The Golden Flashes kept their poise when Miller Place (9-1) took a 14-7 lead in the third quarter on a 41-yard pass by Liam Walsh to Kyle O'Connor. Sayville freshman quarterback Jack Coan, who had been off-target in the first half, found Matt Hewson three times on the next drive. It was capped by an 11-yard strike to the left corner of the end zone, when Hewson kept his feet in. Coan finished 14 of 23 for 161 yards and one interception.
"We call [Coan] 'The Prodigy,' ''said Hewson, who had 64 yards on five catches. "He's so poised, he makes plays and doesn't get shaken."
Sayville recovered a fumble on Miller Place's first play of the next drive and Selts finished an eight-play, 61-yard possession to put the Golden Flashes up for good. After the defense made a fourth-down stop, Selts broke free, finding a hole and not stopping before he went 64 yards for a 28-14 advantage.
"[Selts] weighs 165, but he's got the heart of a 300-pounder," Hoss said. "He's a warrior who shows that size isn't what it's all about. He's got the heart of a lion."
His Miller Place counterpart, Brett Osman, put up excellent numbers as well, rushing for 247 yards with two touchdowns despite being less explosive due to an ankle injury.
The Panthers were their own worst enemies -- they committed 10 penalties for 92 yards, some penalties hurt their own drives, and a few extended drives for Sayville (the Golden Flashes had seven penalties for 55 yards). At the end of the first half with the score tied at 7, Miller Place drove to the Sayville 11, but was unable to spike the ball and get another play off.
"It's hard to overcome [the penalties],'' Miller Place coach Ron Petrie said. "I don't think we played any different. We're a physical team, and whatever the reason, they were penalties today . . . It was one step forward, two back [on offense].''
Osman closed the gap to 28-20 on a 4-yard run with 7:44 left in the game, and Stults ran for a 2-yard score with 1:24 left. Austin Yezarski kept the Panthers' hopes alive with a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, but Sayville recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock. The four-peat dreams stay alive.