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Islip Knocks Blue Devils from Playoffs

A season of injuries came to a screeching halt last Friday night as Islip knocked the Huntington High School football team from the Suffolk Division III playoffs, 17-9.

Playing on a dark, cold night, the Blue Devils cashed in on key turnovers to keep pace with the powerful Buccaneers, who were buoyed by their loud home crowd. Trailing 3-0 in the second quarter, Huntington placekicker Patrick Reilly tied the score when he booted a 34-yard field goal.

The Blue Devil defensive effort was nothing short of heroic. A late second quarter Islip drive was stopped short of the goal line when Huntington linebacker Frank Caravetto picked off an errant Buccaneer pass in the end zone to close out the first half.

The Blue Devils turned the tables on Islip again when Dan Plant recovered a fumble in the end zone after the Bucs lost possession on the one yard line. The dramatic swings in momentum were enough to keep Huntington's hopes alive, despite Islip's high octane offense.

The defensive struggle continued in the second half until Islip quarterback Joe Sabbatino (23 carries for 155 yards) plunged one-yard into the end zone for a touchdown to put the Buccaneers back on top, 10-3. Sabbatino notched another touchdown with 5:02 remaining in fourth quarter, darting 19 yards to give his team a 17-9 advantage.

It would have been easy to quit right then and there, but Plant, Huntington's talented quarterback would have none of that. Instead, the senior led his teammates on a wild 11 play, 65 yard drive that climaxed with senior Trayvon Toney's two yard touchdown run to cut the Blue Devils' deficit to eight points with 2:16 left on the clock.

Huntington head coach Steve Muller called for an onside kick in an attempt to get the ball back for one final push. It worked as Tom Mulligan fell on the ball near midfield to set up an exciting final sequence that had Blue Devil fans on their feet.

With Plant (11-for-22, 122 yards) at the helm and trying to pull the proverbial rabbit out of the hat, Huntington experienced four plays of total futility. Islip's tight defensive scheme led to three incomplete passes and a quarterback sack. While the Blue Devils were stung by the defeat, it was quite an accomplishment just reaching the post-season considering all the injuries that befell the team.

As they paraded off the field for the final time this season, Blue Devil fans gave their heroes sustained applause one final time. "We pride ourselves on never giving up, no matter what the score is," Muller said. "All you can ask your players for is to fight hard to the end. We gave it everything we had and can keep our heads held high."

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