Whatever magic the Greenport/Southold/Mattituck football team conjured up in the Porter season opener, it could not duplicate it against Center Moriches last Thursday night.
The Porters wound up on the short end of a 28-0 result to the Red Devils at home, the exact same score as their home win over Wyandanch on Sept. 8 — only in reverse this time.
“It was really a rougher game than we expected,” senior co-captain and quarterback Michael DeNicola said.
Both teams entered the game hopeful after scoring impressive victories.
Greenport (1-1) posted its first win in almost two years the same weekend that Center Moriches (2-0) upset Miller Place, touted by several observers as a potential playoff team, 28-27. Senior running back Matt Albino (135 rushing yards in 13 carries) ran for three Porter touchdowns, including the game-winner late in the fourth quarter.
Last Thursday, Albino picked up where he left off, gaining 140 yards in 16 attempts and scoring two TDs.
“They were a strong team,” co-captain and senior linebacker Dylan Spooner said. “They knew what they were doing. They came in with a plan and they executed. We played well on the defensive side of the ball after their two first drives of the game, but they instantly just got momentum going and that was it. They ran away with it.”
It didn’t help that Greenport played without several starters. The wounded included corner back and wide receiver Aimen Tabor, running back and linebacker Matt McGunnigle and guards Jacob Sweat and Nicky Martocchia.
“We had a numbers issue,” head coach Tim McArdle said. “We were throwing body after body, and kid after kid was coming back out of the game. That was where we lost the game. It was purely their bodies vs. our bodies and we just didn’t have any left.”
While there weren’t many positives to talk about, McArdle was encouraged by the team’s attitude.
“The kids played to the end. They have heart,” he said. “There’s lot of fight in them. We played tough to the very end. We never gave up. In the second half we gave up one touchdown.”
It was the start that was difficult.
The Porters stopped the Red Devils on their first possession, but the visitors struck for three touchdowns in as many drives to grab a 21-0 halftime lead.
Albino culminated a five-play will an 11-yard end run 6:38 into the game. Shane Gallagher kicked the first of four extra points for a 7-0 margin.
After the Porters went three and out, wide receiver Xavier Bryant turned a screen pass from quarterback Connor Planz into a 51-yard TD down the left side for a 14-0 advantage at 11:54. On their next possession, Planz hit tight end Brayden Hromada with an 11-yard TD pass for a 21-0 lead 53 seconds into the second quarter. Albino closed out the scoring with a 2-yard run to finish a nine-play, 59-yard drive with 5:50 remaining in the third period.
“He was a big, strong kid,” Spooner said. “He was also shifty. He would just wait until the last minute to make his moves and to make his cuts.”
DeNicola gained 68 yards on seven rushes, which included a fine 30-yard run, when the Porters reached the visitors’ 12-yard line. He was not as successful throwing, completing 2 of 13 attempts, although his receivers dropped several catchable balls.
“He was able to hit his receivers in the hands, sometimes in the chest and in the face,” McArdle said. “They have to come down with it.”
Senior running back and kicker Luke Newman endured a difficult game. Newman did well running the ball (33 yards in seven tries) but he dropped two passes and was ejected after an altercation on the sidelines after Bryant returned a punt to the Center Moriches 49-yard line midway through the fourth quarter. Both teams received unsportsmanlike penalties, which nullified each other.
“The game was chippy at that point,” McArdle said. “The tackle got a little aggressive on the sideline. The guys were rolling around and tempers flared really quick and a couple players got involved. No punches were thrown, just some pushing and shoving. The problem is players on the sideline got involved, too.”
Newman will serve a one-game suspension when Greenport visits Southampton on Friday at 6 p.m.
The Porters are looking ahead.
“We forget about this loss,” DeNicola said.
“We need to have a better week of practice and better preparation and we’ll get the win,” Spooner said.