Heading into the fourth quarter of their homecoming game with Mercy on a beautiful afternoon, the Southampton football team and the fans who packed the bleachers had reason to believe they were going to witness a thrilling finish in the battle between Division IV rivals. But the Monarchs rained on the Mariners’ parade, scoring 22 unanswered points in the final period to break a 13-13 tie en route to a 35-13 win.
The Mariners fell to 1-1 while Mercy improved to 2-0.
When asked what went wrong for his team at the end, Southampton head coach “Hikey” Franklin pointed to one problem that had plagued his players all afternoon and eventually caught up with them in the fourth quarter.
“It was just the tackling all game long that hurt us,” he said. “We missed tackles we should have had.”
While Franklin pointed to his team’s inabilities to wrap up Mercy players—which he said he took responsibility for, as the defensive coordinator—there were other problems as well. After Mercy scored a touchdown to open the fourth quarter, taking a lead it would not relinquish, a Mariner fumble turned what had been a solid drive into a golden opportunity for Mercy. The Monarchs turned that miscue into another touchdown, giving them an even bigger lead. They got their final score when the game was pretty much over, for all intents and purposes, when Taylor Sanders threw an interception that Mercy returned for a touchdown.
Franklin said the poor effort on defense unfortunately overshadowed what was a solid effort on offense, impressive considering that the Mariners had to play without fullback/linebacker Lyle Smith, who broke his hand in the knuckle area in his team’s week one win over Wyandanch. Franklin said that Smith is expected to miss three to four weeks. Southampton also lost starting center Clayton Prewitt, who dislocated his shoulder in the third quarter. He’ll be out at least two weeks, according to Franklin.
Not having Smith was tough, Franklin admitted.
“He’s our leader and motivator,” Franklin said. “The kids were looking to see who was going to take that role, but no one stepped up.”
Shaundell Fishburne and Brian Knoebel did a nice job in Smith’s stead, scoring both of Southampton’s touchdowns. Fishburne caught a screen pass up the middle to tie the game at 7-7 in the second quarter. Knoebel’s 55-yard run tied the score again in the third quarter.
“Overall, I was happy,” Franklin said of his offense. “We moved the ball on them. They’re a bigger team and more physical, and three out of our five starting on the offensive line have never played football before.”
The Mariners will try to get back in the win column on Saturday night, when they travel to East Hampton to square off against the Bonackers for the Hampton Cup. The teams have not faced each other since 2006, when Southampton won in a romp. Both teams have had their challenges in recent years, and both are coming off winless seasons. East Hampton moved into Division IV from Division III this year, and is coming off a tough loss to Stony Brook. Franklin said that records can be thrown out the window when the teams meet, however.
“They’re expecting 5,000 people for this game, so it will be insane,” he said. “Any time Southampton plays East Hampton, it’s a big game, no matter what the records are.”
Another big rivalry will be on tap for the Mariners after they take on the Bonackers Saturday. They’ll travel west next, facing Hampton Bays (2-0) on September 28.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Saturday, 9/22, at East Hampton, 7 p.m.; Friday, 9/28, at Hampton Bays, 7 p.m.