ROYALS 19, PORTERS 0
Late in Saturday’s high school football game, one of the balloons used to decorate the surroundings for homecoming at Port Jefferson High School got loose, steadily climbed in the air on an angle as if riding on an escalator and floated away. One couldn’t help but wonder if Greenport/Southold/Mattituck’s playoff chances sailed away with the balloon.
Things don’t look good for the Porters.
The injury-ravaged Porters suffered a severe blow to their playoff hopes as they were shut out by a stout Port Jefferson defense, 19-0.
A first-quarter touchdown run by Nick Caltagirone and the extra point by Port Jefferson’s female kicker, Kaitlin Connolly, stood as the game’s only points until Mike DiCalogero and Garret Hiz produced touchdown runs on successive possessions in the fourth quarter. DiCalogero’s score came on a 74-yard run. Hiz’s run was nothing fancy, just the product of hard work and determination, a 20-yard blast up the middle.
With the win before a crowd on hand to honor the team’s 11 seniors in their final regular-season home game, ninth-seeded Port Jefferson (3-3 in Suffolk County Division IV) gave a shot in the arm to its postseason ambitions. The eighth-seeded Porters (2-4), missing eight players to injuries, now find themselves in a difficult situation. They would likely need to win both of their remaining games against Elwood/John Glenn and Wyandanch to have a shot at returning to the playoffs for the second year in a row.
The Porters played without their top two running backs. They received their latest batch of bad news Thursday when they learned that Tristin Ireland is out with a torn labrum. Ireland was himself a replacement for the team’s leading rusher, Billy McAllister, who is expected to miss the rest of the season with a concussion.
The Porters still managed 129 yards on the ground from John Drinkwater, Matt Drinkwater and Tyshe Williams on Saturday. But the Porters had trouble moving the ball with regularity. They converted only two of 13 third-down plays.
A fumbled handoff on the game’s first play from scrimmage was a bad omen for the Porters, who lost another fumble later in the half after taking the ball to the Port Jefferson 8-yard line. A holding penalty and a false start during the Porters’ final possession of the first half didn’t help, either.
Port Jefferson, on the other hand, ran for 284 yards, with Caltagirone, DiCalogero and Doug Crawford each picking up over 80 yards.
The Porters’ day ended similarly to the way it began. Port Jefferson’s Shane Bruno intercepted a pass, and then Caltagirone took a knee as time ran out.
If there was any consolation for the Porters, it was this: They didn’t add further to their long injury list.