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Andrew Smith

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Northport senior wide receiver John Tabert makes a diving catch in a previous game. File photo by Bill Landon

By Joe Galotti

After losing a perfect season in last year’s playoffs, No. 2 seeded Longwood looked like a team on a mission in their return to the Suffolk Division I semifinals on Friday night. Visiting No. 3 Northport allowed the Lions to strike for 14 points in the game’s opening minutes, and was never able to recover from the early blow, falling 48-21.

Northport senior quarterback Andrew Smith passes the ball up the middle in a previous game. File photo by Bill Landon
Northport senior quarterback Andrew Smith passes the ball up the middle in a previous game. File photo by Bill Landon

The loss not only marked the end of the 2015 season for the Tigers, but also the finish of the high school careers of many of the team’s key offensive players. Quarterback Andrew Smith, running back Dan Preston, fullback Rob Dosch, wideout John Tabert, center James Clemente and guard Rob Fontana will be moving on this spring.

“With all the struggles and all the work that we put in over the season, it’s tough coming to the end,” Preston said. “We gave it our all to get to the Long Island Championship, but we came up short.”

Northport dug itself an early hole in the contest, allowing a 75-yard touchdown run to junior Latrell Horton on Longwood’s first play from scrimmage. Then, on the Tigers next possession, Smith was intercepted by senior cornerback Mike Linbrunner, who proceeded to run the ball into the end zone to make it 14-0.

Later in the opening quarter, Longwood’s offense was deep in Lions’ territory, threatening to expand their early lead even further. But, Northport forced a fumble, which junior linebacker Andrew Havrilla was able to recover.

The play seemed to help settle things down for the Tigers, and the team was able to cut into the Lions’ lead soon after. Just seven seconds into the second quarter, Preston reached the end zone on a 7-yard touchdown rush, trimming Longwood’s advantage to 14-7.

“We showed our pride,” Preston said. “We’re not the type of team to just give up and lie down.”

With 7:40 remaining in the second, the Lions expanded their lead back to 14, when senior halfback Tahj Clark ran 31 yards for a touchdown.

But Northport continued to show fight, and with 4:41 remaining before the half, was able to pin the Tigers down in their own end zone and come away with a safety. Havrilla once again was responsible for a crucial play, this time making the tackle in the end zone.

Northport senior fullback Rob Dosch rushes up the field with the ball in a previous contest. File photo by Bill Landon
Northport senior fullback Rob Dosch rushes up the field with the ball in a previous contest. File photo by Bill Landon

With 1:48 left in the second quarter, Smith made it a 21-15 game, when he connected Tabert for a touchdown.

The Lions added another touchdown before the end of the half, but Northport still found itself within striking distance entering the third quarter.

“After they scored early on in the game, I was happy with the way we were able to fight through like we always do,” Smith said.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, it would be all Longwood in the second half. Clark added two more touchdown runs, to help give his team a commanding lead.

Dosch provided Northport’s only score in the final 24 minutes, registering a four-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

The Lions move on to the Suffolk Division I finals to face off with No. 1 Lindenhurst at Stony Brook University. The Tigers meanwhile, finish with a 6-4 record.

There was plenty of emotion on the Northport sideline after the loss, knowing that this was the end for many of the team’s leading players.

“We had a good season,” Smith said. “It’s been a long one, and we fought through a lot. I’m proud of this team and what we were able to do.”

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By Bill Landon

The Northport football team briefly enjoyed a two-touchdown lead early in the game, and Sachem North may have came back to take the lead in the second quarter, but the Tigers wouldn’t let their homecoming game go that easily Saturday, and clawed their way back to pull out a come-from-behind victory, 29-22.

Northport hit the scoreboard first four minutes in when senior running back Rob Dosch went the distance for a 20-yard score, and senior wide receiver and kicker Ryan Tromblee split the uprights for a 7-0 lead.

“It was a great block — the play was designed to go up the middle,” Dosch said. “It started to the right, I cut back left; it was great blocking up front with a huge hole and just used some speed.”

Northport running back Rob Dosch makes his way upfield while he carries Sachem North defenders in the Tigers' 29-22 homecoming win over the Flaming Arrows on Sept. 19. Photo by Bill Landon
Northport running back Rob Dosch makes his way upfield while he carries Sachem North defenders in the Tigers’ 29-22 homecoming win over the Flaming Arrows on Sept. 19. Photo by Bill Landon

On a play that was slow to develop, Dosch ran down the sideline and cut back inside to find the end zone, again. This time, it was a 29-yard play at the 3:44 mark. Tromblee nailed the kick, and helped the team edge ahead, 14-0.

After a slow start, Sachem North began to move the chains when senior quarterback David McCarthy, on a keeper, broke it outside for a long gain to the Tigers’ 16-yard line. To open the second quarter, the Flaming Arrows finished it when senior running back Steve Anacreon broke free for six points, and with the extra-point attempt successful, the team closed the gap, 14-7.

Sachem North, on their longest sustained drive of the game, marched down the field and capped it off with another six points, as Anacreon struck again to close within a point, 14-13.

The Flaming Arrows then turned lemons into lemonade on a bad snap on the extra-point attempt, when after the holder picked up the ball, he rolled to his right and found an open receiver in the end zone for the two-point conversion. Fortune smiled on Sachem North as the Flaming Arrows took their first lead of the game, 15-14.

With seven seconds left in the half, the Tigers attempted a field goal from the 28-yard line, only to have it blocked.

With the wind out of the south all afternoon, Sachem North kicked off with the wind on its back to open the second half. The ball almost sailed over the head of Northport’s senior kick returner and running back Enzo D’Angelo, who had to make a leaping, one-handed catch to field the ball at his team’s own 1-yard line.

Northport wide receiver John Tabert makes a diving catch in Northport's 29-22 homecoming win over Sachem North on Sept. 19. Photo by Bill Landon
Northport wide receiver John Tabert makes a diving catch in Northport’s 29-22 homecoming win over Sachem North on Sept. 19. Photo by Bill Landon

It might have been wiser to let the ball carry into the end zone, but D’Angelo took off. The senior cut inside as he followed several blockers before breaking it to the outside, leaving would-be tacklers behind as he covered 99 yards for the touchdown run that helped the Tigers retake the lead.

“It was really my blockers that did the job for me,” D’Angelo said. “When I caught it I saw the open hole; it was the blockers up front, and I just ran through it.”

With the point after good, Northport edged ahead 21-15.

After a sustained drive, Sachem North marched deep into Tigers territory when Anacreon got the call. Again, he punched it in for the score three yards out to tie the game, 21-21. The Flaming Arrows split the pipes for the extra point and retook the lead, 22-21, to open the final quarter.

With just under six minutes left in the game, the Tigers pounded their way into field goal range. The kick just missed to the left, to leave Northport still down a point.

Northport’s defense made a critical stop with 3:23 left in the game, where the team held Sachem North to a three-and-out, forcing them to punt on fourth and 15. From the punt formation, the Flaming Arrows faked the kick, and the punter took off with the ball, gaining 14 yards — just one yard shy of the first down, but Northport took over on downs, and with excellent field position.

Northport quarterback Andrew Smith throws the ball over the middle in Northport's 29-22 homecoming win over Sachem North on Sept. 19. Photo by Bill Landon
Northport quarterback Andrew Smith throws the ball over the middle in Northport’s 29-22 homecoming win over Sachem North on Sept. 19. Photo by Bill Landon

Northport senior quarterback Andrew Smith said his team got off to a slow start, but came on strong in the second half for the homecoming win.

“We really ran the ball well in the second half and everyone pushed today,” Smith said.

From the 29-yard line, Dosch went to work as he bowled his way up the middle to move the chains to the 14-yard line. Dosch got the call again as he punched through a hole up front and made his way into the end zone untouched for his third touchdown of the afternoon.

“The defense slanted to the hole that we were supposed to go to and my running back Dan Preston was my lead blocker,” Dosch said. “[Dan] recognized where they were, and there was one man [to beat] on the outside, and I just ran off his block.”

To make it a seven-point lead Northport, Smith went for two as he dropped back and rolled to his left. In a play that was slow to develop, senior tight end Kristian Gerken crossed to the left side of the end zone, and Smith spotted Gerken after checking for his primary receivers, as the two connected for the successful attempt.

“Our line held so I had plenty of time to throw,” Smith said.

Dosch said Smith threw a good ball, and pointed to Gerken as a strong receiver.

“Kristian Gerken is a big kid — kind of a Rob Gronkowski type — who just used his body, went up, made the catch,” he said. “[He’s got] great hands and that sealed it.”

Northport stretched their lead, 29-22, with 2:24 left.

With time running out, Sachem North, on its final offensive drive, did not go quietly. On a fourth and 20, the Flaming Arrows completed a pass over the middle, as the receiver turned upfield. The Tigers made the stop again, one yard short of the marker, and Northport took over on downs with 1:12 left in the game.

“Our kids just never give up — persevering, never feeling like we couldn’t do it, and we stayed right in there,” Northport head coach Kip Lukralle said. “We have confidence in each other and confidence in what we do, and that paid off today.”

Smith took three knees to run out the clock for a very sweet homecoming victory.

Camila dos Santos photo from the scientist

By Daniel Dunaief

Mothers of more than one child have blogged about it for years. When they have their second child, the breastfeeding process is often quicker, with milk available sooner than for the first child. Camila dos Santos, who became an assistant professor at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in February, has found a reason.

Cells in the mammary gland go through something called epigenetic changes. That means something affects the genetic machinery, causing them to react differently under the same circumstances. In mouse models, dos Santos discovered changes in cell proliferation and milk production genes to the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

When she was a postdoctoral student in Greg Hannon’s laboratory at CSHL, dos Santos said they “decided to profile the epigenome before and after pregnancy.” At first, she was looking for changes associated with the effects of pregnancy on breast cancer development. The recent work, however, described the presence of epigenetic memory of past pregnancies, which influences milk production in the next pregnancy.

The message from these studies was that those areas where she saw changes “are associated with the genes responsible for lactation and the proliferation of the mammary gland during pregnancy,” said dos Santos.

The implications of this research extend from the potential to enhance breastfeeding in women who struggle during lactation to breast cancer.

Indeed, other studies have shown that women who become pregnant before 25 have a lower risk for all types of breast cancer.

“We believe that such strong protective effect must have an epigenetic basis,” dos Santos said. She would like to “understand how this stable, pregnancy-induced epigenome prevents cancer development,” she continued.

Hannon believes the kind of research dos Santos is conducting holds promise.

“The world of breast cancer prevention is badly in need of very solid underlying molecular biology and I think there’s a fair chance that what [dos Santos] is doing will eventually get us there,” said Hannon, who recently left Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and is now the Royal Society Wolfson Research Professor at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute at the University of Cambridge.

Dos Santos said her research is exploring ways to turn the changes that occur during pregnancies before the age of 25 into a “preventive strategy to treat women that are high risk and even those that are not.”

To be sure, Hannon and dos Santos cautioned, it’s difficult to know how quickly or even whether this kind of research will lead to any treatment or prevention options.

“The main goal of my lab is to try to understand the effects of pregnancy on normal cells, to devise a strategy to prevent breast cancer from arising,” dos Santos said. She recently published her work in the journal Cell Reports.

Dos Santos and Andrew Smith, a computational biologist from the University of Southern California, along with his postdoctoral fellow Egor Dolzhenko discovered that mice that had been through a single pregnancy had methylation marks that were different from mice of the same age that hadn’t been pregnant. The group connected the changes in the genome to a transcription factor called Stat5a. A transcription factor is a protein that acts like a genetic traffic light, turning on or off genes.

When she joined Hannon’s lab in 2008, dos Santos wanted to study gene regulation throughout cell development. It took her three years to purify stem cells.

Hannon credits dos Santos for developing new techniques.

“She had to build the tools she needed to ask” these questions, Hannon said.

Dos Santos lives in campus housing with her husband, Christopher Vakoc, who is an assistant professor at CSHL. The couple take their young sons hiking and can’t wait for the spring and summer because they hike, swim and kayak. Vakoc and dos Santos met when they were in adjoining labs in Philadelphia.

“We used to have joint lab meetings and one day he asked me on a date,” she recalled.

This summer, dos Santos’ lab will include a premed undergraduate student from Hofstra and high school students from Cold Spring Harbor High School and  Southampton High School. She recently hired a postdoctoral fellow.

“I envision my lab growing according to my needs,” she said. “Right now, I want to continue to work at the bench while training students and postdocs.”