Up 13-0 midway through the second quarter, it looked as if the Westhampton Beach football team was on the way to its first victory of the season at Amityville on Saturday afternoon. The Warriors, though, climbed their way back and took the lead on a game-winning 98-yard drive that sealed up a 26-25 victory.
It is the first win of the season for Amityville (1-1 Division III), which was upset last week by Eastport South Manor (1-1 Division III). Westhampton Beach (0-2 Division III) is still searching for its first victory of the season, much to the dismay of head coach Bill Parry.
“We have to learn how to win,” he said. “We’ve had opportunities to win against two teams now and haven’t done so. A lot of it has to do with mental toughness. We’re winning 25-20 with four minutes to go in the game and that should be a win. Instead it’s a loss.”
The Hurricanes got a touchdown from senior quarterback Steven Tagliavia in the first quarter and took a 13-0 lead with 7:52 remaining in the first half on a 5-yard run by senior running back Evan Gagne. Amityville, though, scored 20 unanswered points between the second and third quarters and took the lead when Amityville senior running back Cameron Grady scampered up the middle of the field for a 45-yard touchdown run with 6:46 remaining in the third. Westhampton Beach senior Zach Rignola blocked the extra point to keep it a 20-13 game.
The Canes didn’t go down without a fight. On the ensuing drive, they went down field on runs from Gagne and junior Patrick Dean. Eventually, Tagliavia hooked up with Tyler Phillips on a 7-yard touchdown pass with 2:20 remaining in the third quarter. Westhampton Beach missed the extra point, though, and Amityville was clinging to a 20-19 lead.
Late in the third quarter, Rignola intercepted a pass from Amityville senior quarterback Sean Walters and took it to Amityvlle’s 12-yard line. It eventually set up a 7-yard touchdown run from Gagne, and the Canes were in the driver’s seat with a 25-20 lead and 11:51 remaining in the game.
Just a few minutes later, Walters threw another interception when senior Liam Culhane forced him to throw the ball early. Westhampton Beach junior Ryan Duncan caught the errant pass and ran down the sideline until he was caught from behind.
The Canes drove the ball down the field but were eventually stopped when Gagne was tackled at the 2-yard line on fourth and goal. Then Amityville went on its 98-yard, game-winning drive, which included a big 30-yard run from Walters, who later scored the touchdown to cap the drive with 2:39 remaining in the game.
Westhampton Beach had plenty of time to drive the ball down the field for a chance to win the game, but Tagliavia was sacked on fourth and 5 by Amityville senior Lonnie Pernell.
Gagne had another good game, rushing for 145 yards on 21 carries with the two touchdowns. Rignola and Phillips both had two receptions each, Phillips with the one catch for a touchdown. Tagliavia was 6 of 12 passing with the one touchdown pass.
Culhane, senior Kyle Ebrus and junior Jordan Laube all had three tackles each on defense. Laube added a sack and Duncan and Rignola both had interceptions.
Parry said he thought his players were tired by the time the fourth quarter started, especially on the drive where Gagne was stopped at the 2-yard line. He thought he played too many players on both offense and defense and that the injuries are mounting. Senior Tommy Speer was injured in the game and senior Kayne Mitchell didn’t dress for the game due to a concussion he suffered against Sayville. Senior kicker Max Pastor missed Saturday’s game because the boys soccer team had a game the same day.
“There were probably four, five, six plays in the game that if we make them with any success we win,” Parry said. “We missed two extra points, we had another bad kickoff, we missed an interception for a touchdown, we don’t convert on four downs inside the 10. Any of those things and we win the game.”
Westhampton Beach will start a string of four consecutive home games on Friday with its first home game of the season against Rocky Point (0-2) at 6 p.m. The Canes will also play Comsewogue (0-2), Huntington (2-0) and Harborfields (0-2) on the homestand.
With his team searching for its first win in its first home game, Parry stopped short of saying his players would be hyped for their game this week. “I still haven’t figured out what buttons to push with this team,” he said. “In the first quarter we’re good against everybody and then we get tired. I’ve never had this situation before and I’m still trying to figure it out. We’ll keep going at it and see what happens.”