Mariners Watch Win Slip Away Late Against Stony Brook

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Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

That’s the saying Southampton head football coach Edgar “Hikey” Franklin found himself referencing when trying to explain his team’s 20-14 home loss to Stony Brook on Friday night. With 10 minutes left in the game, the Mariners were in control, holding a 14-6 lead. And when Stony Brook quarterback Erik Holvik lofted a pass in the direction of teammate Ben Walter, Southampton’s Shaundell Fishburne was right there, getting his hands on the ball first, his second interception of the game nearly within his grasp. But the ball tipped up and away, and landed squarely in the hands of Walter, who ran it in for a 63-yard touchdown. After a failed two-point conversion, Southampton found itself clinging to a 14-12 advantage.

It was a bad break, but one Southampton looked like it would survive—the Mariners got good field position after a short punt that Nick Petty fell on at the Southampton 49-yard line. The Mariners drove the ball down to Stony Brook’s 15, but with 5:30 left, a lost fumble on third down gave the ball back to Stony Brook. The Bears didn’t get far on the fumble recovery itself, but on the next play, Walter struck again, ripping off an 85-yard run that ultimately was the death blow. Holvik ran the ball in on the conversion, giving Stony Brook a 20-14 lead it would not give up.

Southampton had one final chance, getting the ball back with less than five minutes in the game. A long pass from Mariner quarterback Taylor Sanders that would have put his team in good position to score was dropped by Fishburne; Lyle Smith couldn’t get a first down on the next run play; and on fourth down, a pass intended for Fishburne again was not on target, officially ending Southampton’s chances.

The Mariners are now 1-3 in Division IV, and Franklin admitted he had hoped for better at this point in the season.

“Sometimes the ball bounces your way, and sometimes it doesn’t, and unfortunately the ball has not bounced our way this year,” he said. “We’re two or three plays away from being 3-1 or even 4-0. Our kids left everything out on the field on Friday night; they didn’t quit. As a coach, there was nothing I could say to them except how great they played. Unfortunately, we lost. It’s time to win a football game and not have moral victories.”

Franklin said he wasn’t at all disappointed with his team’s effort, and said that Fishburne—who had a clutch interception before halftime—played well in particular. “He really stepped up and played the way a senior should play,” Franklin said.

Southampton scored first in the game when Nitauke Williams caught a 29-yard pass from Sanders in the first quarter. Sanders split the uprights with the extra point, making it 7-0. Stony Brook cut it to 7-6 on a 36-yard scoring run by Asaiah Wilson. Lyle Smith scored on a 12-yard run in the second quarter, and another extra point put Southampton up 14-6. The score remained that way into the fourth quarter.

The Mariners will try to get back on track on Saturday night when they travel to East Hampton (0-4) for the annual battle for the Hamptons Cup trophy. The rivalry between the teams dates back to the 1920s, although before last year’s battle—which East Hampton won, 42-7—the teams last met in 2006. Southampton won that contest, which was essentially a meaningless crossover game as the teams had finished in the identical spot in the standings in their respective divisions but failed to make the playoffs. East Hampton was moved to Division IV two years ago, which allows the teams to face each other on a yearly basis again.

Franklin feels that his team has a good chance to win on Saturday night at what will be East Hampton’s homecoming.

“We’re a really good 1-3 team and they’re a really good 0-4 team,” he said. “We both have the same issues; we’re slight in numbers, we’re juggling kids back and forth between JV and varsity. It’s going to be a great football game.

“If we come to play the way we came to play on Friday night and cut down on mistakes, we’ll come out with a win,” Franklin continued. “Hopefully we can be good and get a little bit of luck, and have the ball bounce our way for once.”

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