Kyle Messina was worn out.
The dynamic sophomore had just rumbled for 276 yards on 35 attempts and carried Sayville to a 28-3 win over Westhampton to capture the Suffolk Division III football championship Thursday night at Stony Brook University's LaValle Stadium.
Messina’s 6-yard touchdown run with 5:22 left capped the scoring.
“He’s a workhorse,” Sayville coach Reade Sands said. “We needed all that he gave us tonight.”
Sayville (11-0) will meet the winner of Plainedge-Wantagh game for the Long Island Class III crown at Stony Brook University on Saturday, Nov. 26 at noon.
The Sayville football program, steeped in a winning tradition, has captured more Suffolk titles than any other school in county history. The Golden Flashes celebrated a Sweet 16 of sorts with the schools’ 16th Suffolk crown.
“It’s always special with each group,” Sands said. “And they’re all different.”
Sayville’s starting quarterback Jake Tripptree got the Golden Flashes off to a fast start. The junior fired two first-half touchdown passes, completing 4 of 6 passes for 93 yards. Tripptree directed an eight-play, 74-yard scoring drive on the game's first possession. The Golden Flashes pounded the ball down the field with seven consecutive runs before Tripptree unloaded a 23-yard scoring pass to a leaping Anthony Morrione for the score. Owen Burke added the extra point for the 7-0 lead with 8:19 left in the first quarter.
Westhampton (8-3) drove 43 yards in seven plays to set up a Brody Schaffer 31-yard field goal to make it 7-3 with 55 seconds left in the first quarter.
Sayville went to work on a 13-play, 80-yard touchdown march capped by another Tripptree pass. This time, on fourth-and-16, Tripptree found Luke Hansen for a 23-yard scoring strike for the 14-3 lead with 3:39 left in the half. Hansen beat double coverage on the game-changing fourth down conversion.
Tripptree would not return after the half.
“He was ruled out by the doctor for precautionary measures,” Sands said. “We had to pull him because he had a shoulder injury.”
With Tripptree sidelined the second half belonged to the Sayville defense.
Westhampton, which entered averaging 29 points per game, struggled to find its rhythm. The Hurricanes turned the ball over on the first drive of the third quarter when defensive back Ben Pierce intercepted a pass at the Sayville 38.
“The quarterback stared right at him and I jumped the route,” said Pierce, who had two interceptions against Islip earlier this year.
The teams traded punts throughout the third quarter before Sayville came up with another turnover. One play after defensive back Michael Milo broke up a deep pass, Pierce stepped in front of the intended receiver for his second interception at the Golden Flashes 30.
“I knew they would try and go deep,” Milo said. “I was protecting my inside and hit his arms so he couldn’t catch the pass.”
Sayville capitalized on the turnover, driving 70 yards in 10 plays. Freshman Pat Coan fired a 14-yard touchdown pass to Milo for the 21-3 lead with 9:51 left in the game.
“The blocking by [Anthony] Contaldi and Hansen made it an easy touchdown,” Milo said. “They did all the work on that one.”
Coan completed 6 of 9 passes for 88 yards in relief.
“He was extremely comfortable and not nervous at all,” Messina said. “He was enjoying the opportunity and I told him to just have fun.”
Sands added: “He was awesome. He stepped right in and did a great job.”
The 14-year-old Coan said he bounced between junior varsity and varsity this season.
“I was excited,” Coan said. “But I felt bad for Jake. He played great. I hope he’s OK."