Porters are pummeled in quarterfinals

Well, it was close for a half.

For the first half of Saturday’s Suffolk County Division IV quarterfinal football game, the eighth-seeded Porters battled the top-seeded Elwood/John Glenn Knights every inch of the way. The Porters trailed at the half by 17-7, a respectable score.

“We were really playing well,” Porters Coach Jim Anderson said. “At first we were getting blown off the ball. Then, early in the second quarter, when Antoine Hunter began to pound the Glenn ball carriers, it changed the mood of our team. We outplayed them the rest of the half.”

But there are two halves to a football game, and as the third quarter progressed, the Knights began to take control. When Glenn’s Pat Pascal returned a punt 45 yards for a touchdown, it took all the steam out of the Porters. Glenn went on to a 45-7 win on its home field, earning the Knights a place in Saturday’s semifinals against the seventh-seeded Bayport-Blue Point Phantoms (4-5), who produced a stunning 26-19 upset of the second-seeded Babylon Panthers on Friday night. It was Babylon’s second loss in nine games this season.

Early in Saturday’s quarterfinal, the game belonged to the Knights (9-0) as Rich Guevara booted a 25-yard field goal, Austin Cohen caught a 40-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Reilly and Cohen (24 carries for 130 yards) scored on a 2-yard run. Glenn had led the Porters 17-0 early in the second quarter.

The Porters’ offense, after shooting itself in the foot in the first quarter with a couple of dropped passes, put together an 80-yard scoring drive in the second. Porters quarterback Dan Letteriello hit Ted Stevens with a pass for 10 yards. Letteriello (6 of 15 passing for 130 yards) then threw a beauty of a pass down the sideline to Tremayne Hansen for 40 yards to the Glenn 10. Three plays later, Ryan Malone swept into the end zone from the 3, putting the Porters (4-5) on the scoreboard. Stevens’ extra point cut the Knights’ lead to 17-7.

The Porters’ defense, led by Hunter and Matt Grzesik, stopped Glenn on fourth down at the Porters’ 20 to keep the deficit at 10 points by halftime.

But Glenn opened the third quarter with a 70-yard march that culminated in Reilly’s 30-yard touchdown run.

The Porters quickly went three and out, and were forced to punt. Pascal’s 45-yard punt return for a touchdown sealed the win for Glenn. Anderson said the punt return “took the air out of us.”

Glenn added two late scores, as Cohen burst 24 yards to pay dirt and Rich Czeczolka capped the scoring with a 12-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Tyler McNeil had some nice runs for the Porters, but the second half belonged to the Knights.

Anderson was proud of the way his team never gave up.

“We had a good season,” he said. “We made the playoffs and that is real important. It is something to build on. For more than a half, we played the number one team just about even. There was a play here and a play there … We missed a lot of tackles. It was one of those things. But I am so proud of these guys. I’ve coached these seniors for a long time. We did a lot together.”