MOUNT SINAI — The Mount Sinai Mustangs like to run the football. They have made a name for themselves over the years as a running team with an affinity for ground and pound. But the Mustangs demonstrated on Friday night that they can also run over a team by going to the air.
After running into some early difficulties, fourth-seeded Mount Sinai polished off its passing game to open up its running game. That paved the way for a 41-19 defeat of the No. 5 Greenport Porters in a Suffolk County Division IV qualifying-round game. Pat Hogan, a junior wide receiver, caught a career-high three touchdown passes from Austin Kay to lead Mount Sinai (7-2), which will advance to a division semifinal against an opponent to be determined.
“That’s the beauty when you have a strong-armed quarterback and kids that can catch it,” Mount Sinai Coach Vinnie Ammirato said. “That’s what really helped us out today. We’re not just one-dimensional like we used to be in the past.”
Hogan made four catches for 77 yards, and three of those receptions went for scores. His touchdowns came from passes of 30, 27 and 11 yards by Kay. Kay completed 8 of 12 passes for 159 yards, with one interception.
“We couldn’t get our sweep working, so we decided to throw the ball, and that was working for us,” said Hogan.
By the time it was over, Mount Sinai had 204 rushing yards, with 121 of those belonging to Peter Natale. Natale’s longest run of the night, a 35-yarder, was good for six points.
The Mustangs also received a six-yard touchdown run from Josh Morales and a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown by Joe Wittpenn.
Meanwhile, the Mount Sinai defense held the Porters (5-4) to 42 rushing yards and only 14 minutes 22 seconds in time of possession. Andrew Zacchino was in on nine tackles, with one sack, and Frank Abbondanza had two sacks. In addition to Wittpenn’s interception, Morales also had a pick.
“I think we just were physically stronger than them and outpowered them,” said Hogan.
The Porters thrilled their fans and surprised Mount Sinai when Yianni Rauseo scooted 30 yards on a fake punt for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead 8:27 into the game. That lead lasted until Matt Poillon’s extra point following Morales’ touchdown 2:38 into the second quarter.
The Porters found themselves in the unenviable position of trying to play catchup for most of the game.
“We were in it for a while,” said Rauseo, one of 15 seniors who played their last game for the Porters. “A few plays here and there, and the score just keeps going up.”
Porters quarterback Mike Mangiamele threw for a pair of touchdown passes, hitting Tremayne Hansen for a five-yarder and hooking up with Rauseo for a 76-yard connection. Rauseo made four grabs for 116 yards.
Tyler McNeil had a tremendous defensive game for the Porters. In addition to grabbing an interception, he was involved in 14 tackles, including a sack. Ryan Malone and Taylor Lindsay each had a hand in nine tackles, and Mangiamele had two sacks.
The Porters put up a brave effort, but Mount Sinai has a way of wearing teams down.
“I’m not going to lie to you,” said Jack Martilotta, who completed his first season as the Porters’ head coach. “I don’t feel real good right now, but I couldn’t be more proud of them. I really couldn’t. I don’t think the score reflects how good a game it was.”
Martilotta said his players deserve credit for the strides they have made since the start of the season. “It’s all the players,” he said. “They’re playing better, and there’s just no way around it. It’s a shame it has to end now because I think we’re playing some really good football.”
Mount Sinai has at least one more game left this year, and the Mustangs will go into it knowing that they can do more than just run the ball.
“We can throw it if we have to,” Ammirato said. “If teams want to play us with nine in the box and send people, we know we can throw it and catch it.”