In a big spot, the Southampton football team’s defense knew where Greenport was going with the ball, but containing Greenport’s Gene Allen proved to be quite a stiff challenge.
The Porters fed their star repeatedly, and he didn’t disappoint, scoring four times in the first half alone to allow unbeaten Greenport to stay that way. After a back-and-forth affair early on, the Porters distanced themselves from the Mariners en route to a 42-20 victory, spoiling Southampton’s homecoming festivities on Friday night.
“It’s a very disappointing evening when you come short in your homecoming game,” said Southampton head coach Hikey Franklin, whose squad dropped to 1-2 on the season. “You want so much for your seniors and for your team, who practiced hard all week and played hard tonight.”
Greenport went into the locker rooms up big after running off three touchdowns in the final six minutes of the half. First, it was a 7-yard scamper by Frank Sierra that put the Porters ahead, and then the daggers: a pair of touchdowns by Allen barely a minute apart, both in gut-wrenching fashion. With 1:17 left, Southampton’s Thomas Roughan walloped Greenport quarterback Matt Drinkwater just as he released the ball but it found its way to Allen nevertheless. While surging toward pay dirt, Allen fumbled, yet he was able to fall on the football in the end zone to make it 28-20 in favor of the visitors.
After Southampton was unable to move the sticks, Greenport had one last chance and capitalized. Forging all the way to the Southampton 11-yard line with eight seconds left, Drinkwater took a quick drop, hit Allen near the right pylon at the 3. Southampton’s Nitauke Williams grabbed ahold of Allen’s legs but the Greenport standout dragged him forward and lunged across the goal line for a touchdown, just three tenths of a second showing on the scoreboard.
“It could have been a different game at halftime, but sometimes the ball bounces your way and sometimes it doesn’t,” Franklin said. “Unfortunately it didn’t bounce our way tonight.”
Allen also scored on a 16-yard screen pass and then again from 15 yards out at the 9:19 mark of the second. He finished the night with 120 receiving yards on eight catches. Teammate Sierra shouldered the load on the ground, carrying the ball 25 times for 140 yards and two touchdowns.
“We knew coming into the game that they had some weapons at the receiver position and a good running back,” Franklin said. “They have a line that’s probably 270 or 280 pounds across the board, and without a doubt, our D-line got tired. They wore us down.”
A Mariner offense that poured 36 points on Wyandanch the week prior appeared poised to eclipse that on Friday night against a defense that surrendered just seven points total in victories over Wyandanch and East Hampton. Trailing 7-0 midway through the first quarter, Southampton marched 67 yards to even the score, capping the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run by Shaundell Fishburne. After their defense forced a three-and-out, the Mariners found the end zone again. From the Southampton 27-yard line, fullback Lyle Smith burst through a massive gash in the Greenport front seven and went 73 yards untouched to the end zone, pushing Southampton ahead 13-7.
Even the passing game was on point early. After Greenport answered Smith’s score in the second quarter, Mariners quarterback Taylor Sanders facilitated another quick strike. On second-and-1 from the Southampton 38, he rolled to his left and spotted Fishburne on a crossing pattern. Sanders hit him in stride, and the senior raced the rest of the way for a 62-yard touchdown reception.
The way they had been playing, the Mariners couldn’t have thought that the Sanders-to-Fishburne strike would be its last entry in the scoring column, but it was. Greenport held the Mariners off the scoreboard for the final 32-and-a-half minutes of the contest. Southampton’s best chance came when Smith returned a kickoff to the Greenport 27 late in the third quarter. The Mariners later set up first-and-goal at the Porters’ 6-yard line but were unable to punch it in on four tries, the last a Sanders bootleg that was halted at the 2 with 11:52 remaining in the game.
It was the last snap for the Southampton offense. Greenport drove 97 yards from its own 2-yard line, kneeling on the final play of the game at the Mariner 1.
With the triumph, Greenport avenged a 26-20 overtime loss that sealed the Porters’ winless campaign in 2012. They are off to quite a different start a year later, having outscored their first three opponents 108-27.
Southampton will try to get back on track when it hosts Stony Brook on Friday night at 6:30 p.m.