Sayville quarterback Jack Cheshire set the new standard for touchdown passes in a single season on the biggest stage.
The junior fired two touchdown strikes in the first half as Sayville built a 21-point lead on the way to a 28-10 win over East Islip in the Suffolk Division III championship game before a crowd of more than 1,800 at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium on Thursday night.
Cheshire’s 31-yard scoring pass to C.J. Messina with 1:03 left in the half gave the Golden Flashes the three-touchdown margin. It was his record-breaking 41st touchdown pass of the season, surpassing the L.I. record of 40 set by Sayville alum Jack Coan in 2014.
Cheshire completed 15 of 23 passes for 257 yards and two scores overall.
Not bad for a kid who was a game-time decision.
“He suffered a serious abdominal injury in our semifinal win last week,” Sayville coach Reade Sands said. “We were waiting for him to be medically cleared. He didn’t practice all week but we had him studying film to be ready. When the team learned he was playing, it really lifted their spirits. They were fired up.”
Cheshire left last Friday’s 42-17 win over Kings Park in the second quarter. He was taken to Stony Brook University Children’s Hospital and released early Saturday morning.
“I didn’t want to miss this game for anything,” said Cheshire, who has thrown for 3,052 yards this season. “Our line was phenomenal and our receivers are the best out there.”
Sayville (11-0) will meet the Plainedge-South Side winner in the Long Island Class III championship game at Stony Brook University at noon next Friday.
Sayville’s first two scores came after East Islip turnovers. Defensive back Nate Casaburi intercepted a fourth-and-2 pass at the Sayville 8-yard line. East Islip (8-3) had moved to the Sayville 31 before Casaburi’s theft with 6:13 left in the quarter.
“It was a big stop for us and changed the momentum,” Sands said. “We forced a few big turnovers and that was the difference.”
Cheshire engineered a 15-play, 92-yard scoring march capped by Alex Millwater’s 4-yard touchdown run to open the scoring. Mike Argenziano added the extra-point kick to make it 7-0 with 1:14 left in the first quarter. Cheshire completed four of seven passes for 55 yards, including a pivotal 10-yard first-down pass to tight end Jayson Gensch to the East Islip 29 on a fourth-and-5 play.
“He made all the key throws,” Sands said. “When the team found out he was cleared to play, it really lifted their spirits. And he came through in a big way.”
Sayville’s Michael Corwin recovered an East Islip fumble at the Redmen 31 to set up the next score. Cheshire drove the Golden Flashes 31 yards in eight plays before finding wide receiver Brock Murtha all alone in the end zone for a 14-0 lead with 8:16 left in the half. It was Cheshire’s 40th touchdown pass of the season, tying the single-season record.
Sayville never let the East Islip offense get untracked. Nick Buffardi outjumped a Redmen receiver for a long pass for an interception to stop one drive and defensive tackle Max Llewllyn recorded two of the Golden Flashes’ five sacks.
Murtha’s 60-yard interception return for a touchdown with 44 seconds left sealed the win.
“Jack balled out all year in his first varsity season,” Murtha said. “He was great.”
A real record-breaker.