A first quarter offensive explosion propelled the J. Taylor Finley Middle School eighth grade football team to its fifth victory without a loss this fall as the Falcons breezed past host Candlewood, 57-14.
Finley scored an astonishing 31 points in the game’s opening minutes and led 38-14 at halftime. Another 19 unanswered points in the second half put the game out of reach and improved the Falcons’ record to 5-0.
The Finley backfield rushed 26 times for 379 yards and five touchdowns. Quarterback Kevin Drake was once again sharp, completed three-of-four passes for 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns to receiver Max McCarthy.
Eight different backs carried the ball for Finley with Josiah Melendez accumulating 121 yards and a touchdown on just five rushes. Ryan Porzio carried six times for 103 yards and two touchdowns. Workhorse Robbie Smith rushed six times for 77 yards and a touchdown. Jahiem Hawkins also carried twice for 37 yards and a touchdown.
Finley coaches Ron Wilson and Jim Byrnes, Jr. were happy with how their team played. “Our offense got rolling really early and the kids did a great job building an insurmountable lead,” Wilson said. “Scoring 31 points in the first quarter is pretty remarkable.”
The team’s defense was also exceptional. Twenty different Falcon players made tackles in the game. The defensive effort included 67 solo tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery, a quarterback sack and a pass deflection and two interceptions, including one by Melendez that he returned for a touchdown.
Smith kicked three extra points and Melendez, Hawkins and Lucas Petrizzi all ran in extra points.
Smith, Melendez and Petrizzi all made six tackles in the game. John Chirico had five tackles and Joe Tropeano, Chris Maichin and Hawkins had four tackles each. “Our defense played a really nice game,” Wilson said.
Finley has one game remaining on its schedule. The Falcons will host talented Northport on Thursday, October 26 at 4 p.m. Northport has won three of its first four games.