Football: Putting a Smiley face on homecoming

Greenport/Southold/Mattituck put a smiley face on its homecoming football game Friday night.

Tyrus Smiley had a big smile on his face, and for good reason. The Greenport senior had a lot to smile about, scoring three touchdowns — two on first-quarter kickoff returns — and turning in one of the greatest individual performances in the team’s modern history.

Thanks in large part to Smiley’s considerable efforts, the Porters held off Southampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson, 28-23, gaining their first homecoming win in Jack Martilotta’s 10 years as the team’s coach.

There wasn’t much that the 6-2, 180-pound Smiley didn’t do. Start with an 88-yard return of the game-opening kickoff for a score, and then an 85-yard kickoff return for another TD that made the score 20-3 before the first quarter ended. (In between was a 1-yard TD pass from Ahkee Anderson to Jadyn Ford).

In the third quarter, Smiley ran the ball into the end zone from seven yards out, and Anderson’s run for the two-point conversion made it 28-9.

Smiley, who has scored six TDs this season, had 44 yards from 10 second-half carries. He also caught a 14-yard pass. On the defensive end, he made five tackles (two for losses), deflected three passes and recovered a fumble.

The second straight win for Greenport (2-2 Suffolk County Division IV) didn’t come as easily as it should have.

Jude Swann, punting in place of Greenport’s injured first-string punter and kicker, Danny Breen, pounded a punt in the fourth quarter. The ball bounced several times before Southampton’s Sincere Faggins, seeing no Porters near him, collected the ball and ran it back 52 yards for a TD. Hudson Brindle’s extra point cut the Greenport lead to 28-23 with 7 minutes and 45 seconds left and brought concern to the home fans at Dorrie Jackson Memorial Field.

Southampton (1-3) followed that up with a successful squib kick by Brindle. The Porters never touched the ball as Niaka Williams slid down to pull it in, giving Southampton possession at the Greenport 32-yard line.

On the next play, Smiley lowered a devastating hit on Williams. Martilotta called it one of the best tackles he has ever seen.

Southampton twice picked up first downs on the drive, including Shawn Stelling’s 11-yard fourth-down pass to Faggins, bringing the ball to the 7.

Then Greenport’s defense stiffened. Smiley stopped Stelling for a five-yard loss. Dante Tramontana pulled Nicere Buck down for a three-yard loss. Smiley did well to defend a pass in the end zone intended for Williams. On fourth-and-goal, a Stelling pass fell short and behind Faggins.

The Porters, who closed out a three-game homestand, then ran out the clock.

Southampton received TDs from Faggins on a 12-yard reception and a 12-yard run by Williams.

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Photo caption: Greenport/Southold/Mattituck’s Tyrus Smiley leaves Southampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson’s Dominic Williams behind him as he heads to the first of his two kickoff returns for touchdowns. (Credit: Garret Meade)

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