PHANTOMS 21, PORTERS 7
Points were hard to come by for the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island football team on Saturday, and yards were even harder.
Bayport-Blue Point’s defense did not give up any points, surrendered only two pass completions, and allowed the Porters a measly 11 yards from 44 offensive plays as the Phantoms registered a 21-7 win on Bob Sullivan Field. The Porters struggled mightily to move the ball, managing only one first down for the game. They were 1 of 13 on third-down conversions and 0 for 2 on fourth downs.
“Obviously, that was a problem today,” Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island coach Jack Martilotta said. “They came up, filled all the holes real good. There wasn’t a lot of places for us to go. They played quite a defensive game.”
The Phantoms (2-4 Suffolk County Division IV) weren’t lacking for motivation. Not only was it homecoming weekend, but it was also Senior Day, Bayport-Blue Point’s final home game of the regular season and a vital game for the Phantoms’ playoff hopes. In addition to wearing their customary navy blue and gold home uniforms with gold helmets that brought about a resemblance to Notre Dame’s uniform, the Phantoms also wore green socks in honor of their late, legendary coach, Kerry Lawler. Lawler was inducted into the school’s hall of fame earlier in the day.
“The whole community is here,” said Matt McKinnon, who played slot receiver, halfback and cornerback for Bayport-Blue Point. “It’s a big day. Everyone’s having fun.”
Not the Porters (0-6), though. They lost their 11th straight game and almost certainly saw their playoff chances go down the drain.
“It hurts, but we got to keep our heads up,” said Christian Angelson, a wide receiver and cornerback for Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island.
McKinnon was responsible for 15 of Bayport-Blue Point’s points. He scored the team’s last two touchdowns, catching a 48-yard pass from Brendan Bateman in the second quarter and then winding his way 45 yards on a touchdown run, making the score 21-0 with 9 minutes 28 seconds left in the third quarter. The junior also kicked a 21-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.
The Porters gained possessions on four fumble recoveries to keep themselves in the contest. Matt Drinkwater and Eugene Allen collected two fumbles each for the Porters, and Drinkwater ran one of his two back 53 yards for a score 2:01 into the fourth quarter.
Bayport-Blue Point scored on its third drive of the game when a defensive back slipped, enabling Jack Flood to run back and catch a pass from Bailey Imbo before racing to the end zone for a 45-yard connection. Flood caught all four passes thrown his way for 70 yards.
Anthony Preston ran for 114 yards on 17 carries for Bayport-Blue Point. McKinnon covered 95 yards on eight runs.
But it was Bayport-Blue Point’s defense that stood out. Anthony Lombardi, one of the team’s 17 seniors, made a game-high 11 tackles, with two sacks and a fumble recovery.
The Porters went three and out on 12 of their 14 possessions, including the first eight. They had a one-play possession that ended with an interception.
“It’s tough,” Martilotta said. “We got to be able to move it and stop it. We didn’t have a lot of luck today moving it.”
Speaking of his defense, Bayport-Blue Point coach Eric Iberger said: “They’ve done a great job all season. What we’ve done, unfortunately, is we’ve turned the ball over on special teams. We’ve given up some special teams touchdowns. We’ve thrown some interceptions that have been returned for touchdowns. We’ve had some costly turnovers inside of four-down territory, shortened the field for the other team.”
Last year Bayport-Blue Point failed to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Iberger said that failure was used as motivation for this year. The Phantoms switched from the wing-T to the spread offense in order to make better use of their athleticism.
With Saturday’s win, fifth-seeded Bayport-Blue Point still controls its destiny. If it wins its remaining games against Mount Sinai and Wyandanch, it would almost surely qualify for the playoffs at 4-4. A 3-5 record would give the Phantoms an outside shot at the postseason.
Asked about his team’s playoff prospects, Iberger said, “I would not put anything past those young men in that locker room.”
McKinnon said, “I think that if we just keep playing hard and we play physical, we’ll definitely make the playoffs.”
Because of its high preseason seeding, Bayport-Blue Point was given a tough schedule that included the top four seeds: Elwood/John Glenn, Mount Sinai, Babylon and Shoreham-Wading River.
Greenport/Southold/Mattituck/Shelter Island’s defense, led by the likes of Jonathan Bakowski (eight tackles), Angelson (seven tackles) and Jack Volinski (six tackles), had its moments, but the Porters’ offense was stagnant.
“Our defense has been stepping up a lot lately, big stops,” Angelson said. “Our offense, it’s a work in progress. I think we’ll get it.”
The losses are mounting, but Martilotta has maintained a hopeful outlook that a turnaround is coming.
“I say it every week, they’re playing good football,” he said. “They played good football today. We couldn’t move the ball. The kids were trying, but [the Phantoms] were very good on defense. The kids keep playing hard, they keep trying. The ball’s going to bounce our way.”