The first quarter Friday night was easily the best quarter the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck football team had played this season. By holding Hampton Bays’ bull of a running back, Quinn Smith, to seven yards on four carries, the Greenport defense forced the Baymen to punt on their first two possessions and later turn the ball over on downs on their third.
It was encouraging stuff, a promising beginning for the homecoming crowd at Dorrie Jackson Memorial Field to behold.
“Coming out of the locker room in the first quarter … we were playing smash-mouth football,” Greenport center/middle linebacker Tyler Marlborough said. “You know, we were knocking heads. We were stopping [Smith] dead in his tracks, not letting him get any yards. I think that was phenomenal football. That was the best I’ve seen out of this program for a while.”
That fire was soon extinguished, though. The first quarter was a tease as the remainder of the game followed an all-too familiar pattern for the Porters.
Smith ran for — gulp! — seven touchdowns and 296 yards from 18 carries despite exiting the Suffolk County Division IV game early and not running the ball in the fourth quarter of what turned into a 60-0 rout.
And, here’s a sobering thought: It wasn’t even Greenport’s worst loss of the season by score. The Porters were thumped, 62-0, by Port Jefferson a couple of weeks earlier.
This was the fourth straight game in which Greenport (0-6) was shut out. The Porters have struggled mightily when it comes to putting points on the scoreboard. They have managed a meager 20 points this season, a total that Smith more than doubled himself Friday.
Greenport had a plan for dealing with Smith, a 6-0, 240-pound senior whose bulk came in handy as he carried defenders on his back for extra yardage. The Porters packed the box with six defensive linemen (Scott Ferguson, Nick Smith, Hunter Anderson, Julio Coc Tomas, Dominick Giovanniello and Ronald Gonzalez), with five linebackers behind them.
That worked until Smith ran for four touchdowns in the final 5 minutes and 54 seconds of the second quarter. First, he scooted around the left side for a 34-yard TD run and then, an almost identical Smith TD, this time from 28 yards 18 seconds later was set up by Eric Casale’s fumble recovery. Then Smith barreled 20 yards with Porters trying to pull him down for a 20-0 lead.
“One mistake and it spirals down from there,” Coc Tomas said. “It crashes.”
That was three Smith TDs in 4:06.
And he wasn’t done.
With 1.6 seconds left in the first half, Smith shook off two tacklers down the left sideline on the way to his fourth score, a 40-yarder.
“Hampton Bays was able to adjust,” Greenport coach Jack Martilotta said. “[Smith’s] obviously a special player and once he figured out a place he could run … We were trying to adjust, but with a very young team, adjustments on the fly are difficult.”
Smith then ran for three TDs on his only three carries of the third quarter. They went for 45, 20 and 20 yards. His final four touches — and five of his last six — were TD runs.
“He is really good. I’ll give him props,” said Coc Tomas, who called Smith the toughest running back Greenport has faced this year. “You just got to hit him low. You hit him low, you can get him down, but if you hit him high, he’s going to carry you and he’s going to keep running.”
Marlborough collided with Smith on some plays. “It felt a lot different than normal,” he said.
A promising start turned into another rough outing for Greenport, which fumbled the ball away four times. One of those fumble recoveries, by John Salas, was returned 12 yards for a TD. Cooper Shay also ran for a TD.
Isaiah Johnson played well for Greenport in the first quarter before leaving the game with a knee injury. The Porters also lost Matt Warns, who was ejected with 6:16 left in the third quarter. “He’s just frustrated,” Martilotta said. “It’s tough.”
While Hampton Bays (3-4) registered 435 yards worth of offense, Greenport was held to only 71, with 24 of those coming on the ground.
Some of Greenport’s troubles can be attributed to inexperience. Eighteen of the 30 players listed on the Porters’ roster are either freshmen or sophomores.
“As time went on, we kind of lost control and, as you saw on the scoreboard, it kind of slipped out of our hands,” Marlborough said. “I’d like to say sorry to all the fans, honestly, and especially all the coaches that have put in the time to watch us and see us and work with us and encourage us and to have stuff like this go completely awry and them not being able to stop it, you know, it makes me feel pretty bad.”
Photo caption: Greenport/Southold/Mattituck’s Jahmeek Freeman tries to ward off Hampton Bays’ River Orlando. (Credit: Bill Landon)