Last season, the Harborfields football team came to Westhampton Beach and ruined Homecoming for the Hurricanes with a 27-20 victory for the Tornadoes.
Fast-forward to this past Friday night: When Harborfields senior Alec Rappa scored on a 46-yard touchdown run just 59 seconds into the game, it looked like the Tornadoes were once again going to upset Westhampton Beach on its home field.
The Hurricanes regrouped, though, following the long scoring run, and wound up scoring 26 points in the second and third quarters to beat the Tornadoes, 26-12, exacting some revenge from last year’s tough loss in what was final home game of the season for the Canes.
While he was happy that his team won, keeping its playoff hopes alive, Westhampton Beach head coach Bill Parry said he still thinks his team has more to show than it did Friday night.
“I think we’re better than what we’re playing,” he said. “The game we played against Comsewogue, if I can get that team back, man … we’re in the hunt. We fall apart at times, and I haven’t figured that out.”
At 3-3 in Division III with 92.07 power points, the Canes currently sit in 10th place, two spots out of the playoffs. An upset victory at Miller Place this week, though, likely would vault Westhampton Beach into the playoffs. Following that with a win at Hauppauge on November 1 would definitely get the Canes in. If they split their final two games of the season, the playoff picture is murkier.
Westhampton Beach will go into this week’s game, at Miller Place, with a target on its back after upsetting the Panthers on their home field last season in the Division III semifinals. Miller Place is one of three remaining undefeated teams in all of Suffolk County this season, sitting atop the division at 6-0.
“This is a real big game for us, and that’s the way we’re going to treat it,” Parry said. “I’m not sure if we can match up, up front, with Miller Place—they’re enormous. But we’re going to show up to try and win. We’re not going there to lay down.”
Westhampton Beach trailed Harborfields, 6-0, for all of the first quarter in Friday’s game, but it didn’t take long for the Canes to get on the board in the second quarter. About two minutes in, Westhampton Beach senior Evan Gagne ran the ball into the end zone from eight yards out to tie the game, and Gagne kicked the extra point to give his team a lead it would never relinquish.
With three minutes remaining in the first half, junior Patrick Dean caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Stephen Tagliavia. Then, with 38 seconds remaining in the first half, Gagne ran in from nine yards out to give the Canes a 19-6 lead. Harborfields drove the ball down the field with the clock winding down in the first half, but senior Zach Rignola intercepted a pass in the end zone from Harborfields senior quarterback Andrew Widmer as time expired.
Out of the locker rooms, the Canes went on a drive and scored when Rignola hauled in an 11-yard pass from Tagliavia. After Gagne’s successful extra point, Westhampton Beach led, 26-6. Rappa scored again early in the fourth quarter on an eight-yard run, but that was the end of the scoring for the rest of the game.
Gagne finished with 119 yards on 16 carries, while Dean finished with 104 yards on 19 carries. Rignola led all receivers with four receptions for 51 yards and also made four tackles on defense, along with the interception. Tagliavia completed eight of his 12 passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Liam Culhane had four tackles.
“Last week was a hard loss for us at home,” Tagliavia said following the game. “We had to come back. It was the last home game for the seniors, so we had to work hard and get the win and put us back for a chance to make the playoffs.”