Long runs by Nasir Youngblood, Lex Colato and Josiah Melendez and exceptional defensive play propelled the Huntington football team to a 14-7 upset victory over highly regarded Centereach on its Homecoming Day last Saturday before a crowd of 1,200.
The game was scoreless until the second quarter when Melendez raced through the line and broke into open field for a 55 yard gain. Youngblood took it from there, scoring his sixth touchdown of the fall on a six yard run to give Huntington a 6-0 lead.
The Blue Devil defense was splendid in shutting down Centereach’s powerful offense. Huntington repeatedly responded with big stops when it counted the most. “I’m so proud of our guys,” head coach Steve Muller said.
The teams headed into the fourth quarter with Huntington still leading 6-0. But the Blue Devils quickly extended their advantage when Youngblood ran 91 yards for another touchdown. The track star was hotly pursued by a pair of Cougar defenders but neither got close to the junior. Melendez notched a two point coverage to put Huntington ahead, 14-0.
Centereach quickly rallied behind an impressive passing game and repeated Huntington penalties. The Cougars inched closer when quarterback Matt Robbert connected with his brother Justin for a nine yard touchdown pass. Matt Robbert converted the extra point to make the score 14-7.
Both teams threatened in the final minutes, but Huntington senior Jon Koumas definitively ended Centereach’s hopes when he intercepted a pass with 1:24 remaining to stop still another Cougar drive. With Centereach out of timeouts, the Blue Devils were able to run out the clock.
“I feel like our team was very prepared for the game and had a lot of energy,” Koumas said. “I feel that I played one of the best games of my career both on offense and defense.”
The game marked Huntington’s best effort of the season. Youngblood rushed 15 times for 137 yards. Colato carried eight times for 52 yards and Melendez had 47 yards on four carries. Quarterback Torin Bograd had 18 yards rushing and another 11 passing on a completion to Chad Rowe.
Huntington’s defense was spectacular with Koumas leading the way with eight tackles, a fumble recovery and the huge fourth quarter interception. Alex Bellissimo also had an important interception that stopped another of Centereach’s scoring threats.
Colato had eight tackles and a forced fumble. Aedan McDonald recorded seven tackles and Tazadon Smith brought down six runners. Aiden Mrotzek and Robbie Smith both made five tackles. Jaylen Smith, Tyriek Mays-McKoy, Gary Barash and Nick Tedisco all had four tackles each.
“I feel like we did very well,” Youngblood said. “We held them off. Our defense performed amazing. I was proud of all of them. I don’t want to say too much about how I performed. I just know every touchdown I get and every yard I get and anything I do it is because my team is doing their job helping me.”
Bograd again was effective leading Huntington’s offensive unit. “I feel that I played very well,” he said. “It was a rough and exciting game with a lot of ups and downs. The team as a whole played outstanding. The defense really played well and stopped them at key times in the game. The offense and the line and running backs played amazing. I give huge props to the linemen. Without them we can’t do anything and they played amazing today.”
Colato continues to contribute big plays on both sides of the ball. “I couldn’t have run the ball without my line and my teammates,” he said. “We moved the ball and continued to punish the defense. We played as a team.”
Rowe is another of Huntington’s essential players and is always ready when called upon. His sharp play helped lift the Blue Devils on Saturday. “I think that I performed solidly because of the energy that was fed from my teammates,” he said. “I feel that the team came to the game ready to execute and get the job done. I think the team performed great because of the leaders and captains that helped us keep our heads throughout the game.”
Huntington (2-1) plays at Half Hollow Hills East (1-2) on Friday at 4 p.m. West Islip topped the Thunderbirds last weekend, 40-19. “We’ll be ready for the game,” Muller said.