By Jim Ferchland
Going into the fourth quarter up 14-13, the Smithtown East football team could not contain Bay Shore’s defensive prowess.
The Marauders scored 20 unanswered points off turnovers during the 12-minute span to pick up a 33-14 win on the road at the Bulls’ Oct. 7 homecoming game.
Smithtown East quarterback Kevin Melore threw three interceptions with two of them landing in the hands of Bay Shore’s Josh Barker-Ortiz, who made his fifth and sixth interception of the season. He also had a fumble recovery. The Bay Shore defensive back is tied for first with Walt Whitman’s Jordan Lyons among Suffolk County’s interception leaders.
Smithtown East ended the game turning the ball over four times. Despite this, Smithtown East head coach Jonathan Woods was not disappointed by his quarterback’s performance.
“Kevin [Melore’s] got talent and he’s getting the chance to get a lot of experience,” Woods said of the sophomore. “He threw a couple of great balls on screens, but I think as an offense you can’t turn the ball over four times. We had a couple [turnovers] through the air and a couple on the ground but as an offense we just need to protect the ball.”
The first score of the game didn’t come until the second quarter, where the Bulls started just outside their own end zone. Melore’s pass was intercepted by Barker-Ortiz, who returned it back for a 10-yard touchdown. The extra point was missed, making the score 6-0 Marauders.
East retaliated on its next possession, when senior running back Lauden Hendricks found an opening on the left side and took the ball in for a 20-yard score. The extra point was good and East went into halftime leading 7-6.
During halftime, Woods encouraged his team play better offensively.
“We just need to be consistent,” Woods said. “We are not stringing together when 11 players do the correct thing. We are just trying to hammer the basics and the details.”
To start the third quarter, Bay Shore quarterback Casey Roan threw the ball to his 6-foot, 5-inch wide receiver Kevin Sammis for a 51-yard touchdown to give Bay Shore a 13-7 lead.
“Every week I really have a cornerback who’s not my size,” he said. “I think we should throw it all the time, but when we do throw it, I just do my best to get the ball.”
Woods though did not see Sammis as a difference-maker.
“He is a good player,” Woods said. “We thought if we played good team defense that [Sammis] might catch a few deep balls. I don’t think he beat us when we had four turnovers. We had poor execution on offense.”
In the closing minutes of the third, East relied heavily on its running attack, and senior quarterback Austin Nasworthy punched it in the end zone from four yards out to put East back on top 14-13.
Even with the momentum in their hands, the Bulls were held scoreless in the fourth. Bay Shore’s comeback started with the Bulls’ defense allowing a 30-yard rushing touchdown to Nolan Epps on a sweep to the right side. Bay Shore went for a two-point conversion, but was unsuccessful, so the score was brought to 19-14 with the Marauders now holding the lead.
With 6:29 remaining in the game, Melore was looking for senior wide receiver Andrew Durland, but found Bay Shore defensive back Jalen Thompson instead. He made a diving catch and set up Casey Roan, who completed the drive with his legs, scoring a 3-yard rushing touchdown to expand the lead to 12 with 2:12 left.
Barker-Ortiz continued to excite at the expense of East’s homecoming celebration, and with 1:48 remaining in the game he recovered a Matt Cohen fumble and took the ball the other way until he was pushed out of bounds at East’s 7-yard line. On the very next play, Josh Parris took it in for a 7-yard rushing touchdown to give the game its final score.
The Bulls fall to 1-4 on the season and suffer their fourth consecutive loss after winning the first game of the season against Copaigue Sep 9.
“We are not meeting our capabilities, so there’s some frustration there,” Woods said.
Smithtown East’s next game is Oct.14 at at home against crosstown rival Smithtown West at 2 p.m.