Huntington Stuns Bellport, 32-14
It was a game the Huntington High School football team badly wanted to win, but the Blue Devils knew they would have their hands full with Bellport, which won Suffolk and Long Island titles last fall and entered the season as the No. 2 seed in Suffolk Division II.
Trailing 14-6 in the third quarter, No. 3 Huntington scored 26 unanswered points to pull off a 32-14 upset last Saturday afternoon on the Clippers' home turf before a large crowd at Joe Cipp Field. The victory evened the Blue Devils' record at 1-1. The team hosts Miller Place this coming Saturday (Sept. 24) at 1:30 p.m.
Huntington head coach Steve Muller liked what he saw against Bellport and so did the large contingent of Blue Devil fans that trekked east for the game. "Our kids really came through when they had to," Muller said.
After battling through a scoreless first quarter, Bellport put the first points on the board, scoring on a 46-yard touchdown run and extra-point kick to go-ahead, 7-0.
With Huntington starting quarterback Danny Plant temporarily on the sideline recovering from a hard hit, back-up Ben Kocis found Joshua Long open and the pair connected for a 24-yard touchdown pass. The extra-point attempt failed, though, and the Clippers kept a 7-6 lead as the two proud teams went into halftime.
Huntington's deficit grew when Bellport scored again, this time on a 48-yard touchdown pass and successful extra point kick. With the score standing at 14-6 and the clock ticking away in the third quarter on Fan Appreciation Day at Joe Cipp Field, the Blue Devils "got their act together" and went on a 26-0 scoring run.
First, Plant threw touchdown passes of 73-yards and 51-yards to Trayvon Toney (extra point attempts failed both times) to give the Blue Devils their first lead of the day at 18-14. Then, with less than seven minutes remaining, Thomas Mulligan recovered a Bellport fumble and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown, followed by Patrick Reilly's extra point kick.
Jared Thorbourne capped off Huntington's remarkable display by returning an interception 56-yards for the final touchdown of the day. Reilly put an exclamation point on the stunning turnaround when he split the uprights with his extra point kick.
Huntington's resurgence offense was met by an equally imposing defense. The turning point of the game came when the Blue Devils stopped the Clippers on the half-yard line on tension-packed fourth and goal play to hold Bellport to a two-point lead.
When all was said and done Toney had caught four passes for 132 yards, recorded 12 tackles and forced a fumble. Frankie Caravetto added another 10 tackles and recovered a fumble.
"It was crazy," Plant said about the second half surge. "I loved it. Trayvon put the team on his back. Everyone was in a zone. It was a season-changing game." Plant completed 9-of-22 passes for 181 yards and carried the ball nine times for another 87 yards. T.J. Greenhill made three receptions for 21 yards and rushed 16 times for 71 yards. Long hauled in a pair of passes for 33 yards.
"We really stepped it up," Plant said. "It was a great win. The defense really came together." The performance by Huntington's small roster thrilled the team's fans and brought a big smile to the head coach's face. "Steve was a really happy fellow," assistant coach Ron Wilson said.
Huntington will look to keep its momentum this Saturday afternoon when it takes on Miller Place at 1:30 p.m. in the Blue Devils' home opener. Members of Huntington's Class of 1971 will be in the stands. The alums are holding a 40th reunion Friday-Sunday.