The Huntington football team rallied to take a 14-12 halftime lead in Saturday’s Suffolk Division II playoff game, but Bellport went on to score 22 unanswered second half points to top the Blue Devils, 34-14 before a crowd of about 500 at Joe Cipp Field.
Playing on a natural grass field and wearing its white road uniforms, Huntington came ready to rumble. But, Bellport scored on a 65 yard running play just 17 seconds into the game, forcing the Blue Devils to play catch-up.
Trailing 12-0 in the second quarter, Huntington senior Kei Ron Byrams broke through the line and into open field, racing 89 yards for a touchdown. Placekicker Jose Veliz followed with the extra point and the Blue Devils narrowed their deficit to 12-7.
A short time later, sophomore quarterback John Paci fired a tight spiral to senior Kyree Johnson who caught the pass and sprinted down Bellport’s sideline for a 58 yard touchdown. Veliz’s subsequent kick hit the left upright and ricocheted to the right and over the crossbar to give Huntington a 14-12 lead.
Huntington head coach
Steve Muller surveys the scene.
Bellport (8-1) threatened again in the closing minutes before halftime, but the Blue Devil defense came up with several big stops to let Huntington take a two-point lead into halftime.
The second half belonged to Bellport, which gobbled up yardage while scoring 22 points. The Blue Devils managed a handful of first downs, but weren’t able to sustain any drives.
Huntington went down fighting. The defense continued to play hard and kept its collective head up while the offense tried desperately to move the ball. But, in the end, it wasn’t enough as the Clippers simply played better on this splendid fall day.
“We gave the game everything we had,” Huntington head coach Steve Muller said. “I’m very proud of our team and all the players and coaches. The effort was there. Bellport is talented and has a great coaching staff. We knew it would be a tough game. We played hard. That’s all you can ask for as a coach.”
Paci completed 9-of-17 passes for 159 yards and also rushed five times for 33 yards. Byrams ran for 122 yards on 18 carries. Jared Leake rushed five times for 12 yards and caught a pair of passes for 14 yards. Alex LaBella had four receptions for 25 yards.
The loss ended the Blue Devils’ season. Huntington finished the fall campaign with a 5-4 mark.