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Lauden Hendricks

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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’s Kevin Melore passes the ball. Photo by Jim Ferchland

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.

Smithtown East’s Lauden Hendricks carries the ball up the field. Photo by Jim Ferchland

“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.

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By Joe Galotti

The Smithtown East football team’s defense gave an admirable effort in the school’s homecoming game Saturday afternoon, but in the end could not do enough to help the Bulls earn their first victory of the season. Visiting Copiague scored only once in regulation, but still came away with a 14-8 win, thanks to an overtime rushing touchdown by junior quarterback Ronald James.

“From top to finish it was the best game we’ve played all year long,” Smithtown East head coach Chris Denton said. “The result was tough — having to end the game like that, especially on homecoming, but our defense played a great game.”

Even with wet and windy weather conditions, Smithtown East was able to draw a large crowd of students and parents for the school’s homecoming festivities, but on the field, the Bulls did not give their fans much to cheer about in the first half, as the team’s offense struggled to move the ball up field. Both defenses were sharp through the first two quarters though, resulting in a scoreless game at the half.

The contest’s first points came 4:11 into the third quarter, when Eagles junior running back J’Quan Brown delivered a 7-yard rushing touchdown. James then connected on a pass to junior tight end Tyrone Browne on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, to give Copiague an 8-0 advantage.

Smithtown East provided a quick response to the Eagles strike. With 6:01 remaining in the third, sophomore running back Lauden Hendricks broke a 70-yard touchdown run, giving his team a much needed spark. The sophomore was able to find a hole on a rush up the middle of the field, and once he found an opening, used his speed to race into the end zone.

“It was a trap right call,” Hendricks said. “It was a perfect blocking scheme and a perfect block that got me up to the second level. Then I just had to run it.”

Denton was not surprised by Hendricks’ highlight-worthy run, and said that his team has seen that level of play from him before.

“Lauden is a fantastic athlete,” Denton said. “Once he gets hot, he gets really hot. And then we just let him run the ball.”

The Bulls tied the game at 8-8 when junior quarterback Anthony Voelker found sophomore wide receiver Andrew Durland in the end zone for the two-point conversion.

After the two quick scores, the game returned to being a defensive struggle. The Eagles threatened to score in the final minute of regulation, but Smithtown East’s defense held strong, forcing overtime.

In the extra period, each team was given a chance to start a drive at their opponent’s 20-yard line. The Bulls got possession first, and nearly punched the ball into the end zone, but were denied when Copiage senior linebacker Dylan Dixon forced a Smithtown East fumble just shy of the goal line. The Eagles recovered the loose ball.

On the fifth play of Copaige’s ensuing drive, James faked to his running back and ran three yards to the outside for the game-winning touchdown.

While the Bulls defense was unable to avoid a frustrating defeat, Hendricks still was pleased with the unit’s effort.

“I think our defense played as good as we have all year,” he said. “There were just certain moments where we gave up the big play, and were just in bad situations.”

Smithtown East will look for better results in the second half of their 2015 campaign, beginning this Saturday, when the Bulls travel to Half Hollow Hills East for their opponent’s homecoming at 1:30 p.m.

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