By Bill Landon
The Rocky Point football team pulled out a 48-33 victory in Saturday’s homecoming game, halting a late rally by visiting Harborfields, which tied the game at 27-27 after three quarters of play. The Eagles watched their first-half 27-12 advantage disappear in the third quarter, to make it a new game in the final 12 minutes of play. Rocky Point was able to outscore its opponent with three touchdowns in the final quarter in front of a capacity crowd, to move to 2-3 in Division III.
Rocky Point sophomore running back Peter LaSalla broke free from the line of scrimmage four minutes into the game and jetted down the left sideline for a 60-yard touchdown run and the first score of the game. Although the extra-point attempt failed, the team took an early 6-0 lead.
A minute later, the Tornadoes were unable to convert on downs, and punted the ball away to junior receiver Sean McGovern, who returned the punt 65 yards for the Eagles’ second touchdown of the game.
“We got a big play from Sean on that punt return,” Rocky Point senior quarterback Harrison Lynch said.
McGovern, also the kicker, finished what he started, and split the uprights to help his team break out to a 13-0 lead.
Harborfields answered back when quarterback Cody Cunningham, on a keeper, punched in for the score, but the Eagles blocked the extra-point kick attempt, to trail the Eagles, 13-6.
Lynch and sophomore Damian Rivera shared quarterback duties all afternoon, and Rivera, under center, passed the ball over to Lynch, who broke outside and went the distance for the touchdown. McGovern’s point-after was good, and the Eagles stretched their lead to 20-6.
Harborfields, on the longest sustained drive of the afternoon that consumed four minutes off the clock, ended its march across the field with a score, despite a penalty-plagued campaign that included a 15- yard unsportsmanlike conduct call. The extra-point kick attempt failed again, and the Tornadoes settled for a 20-12 deficit with just over two minutes left in the half.
Rocky Point looked to put the game away when Lynch, on a play-action pass, found LaSalla open down the right sideline. The running back gathered it in on a catch-and-run play, and recorded a 46-yard score. With the point after, the Eagles took a 27-12 advantage into the halftime break, but that lead didn’t last for long.
Harborfields moved the chains to open the second half only to cough the ball up four minutes in, as Rocky Point took possession on their own 25-yard line. Unable to capitalize, the Tornadoes were on the move again.
On a play-action pass, Harborfields quarterback Cody Cunningham found wide receiver Christian Mullings in the end zone for the score, and after a successful two-point conversion, made it a one-score game, 27-20.
On Rocky Points’ ensuing possession, the Eagles fumbled and Harborfields recovered the ball on the 34- yard line with less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter. On the second play from scrimmage, the Tornadoes cashed in and tied the game 27-27.
McGovern said he was surprised that Harborfields was able to even the score.
“It was a little bit of a shock, but we knew we could get back in it,” McGovern said. “Harry Lynch led us — he motivated. He sure can play; he’s a baller.”
Moving into the fourth quarter, the Eagles knew they had to finish the game the way they started.
“We just had to keep going, so we started the fourth like it was 0-0,” LaSalla said. “We put up the first two touchdowns [to start the game], so we knew we could do it again.”
The Eagles went to work in the final 12 minutes., and Lynch got the ball moving when he fired deep to the senior running back Paul Dominguez for a touchdown pass, as Rocky Point jumped back out in front, 34-27.
Cunningham looking to retie the game, and dropped back to pass, but had to check down, or look for his secondary receivers, and was blindsided just as he released the ball. Rocky Point junior tight end and defensive back Brendan Heggers found himself under the ill-fated pass, and grabbed possession for the interception.
“We came out a little flat after halftime,” Lynch said, “but we picked it up after that interception, and just got things rolling after that.”
The Eagles wasted no time in cashing in on Harborfield’s miscue, and sophomore running back Alec Rinaldi plowed his way up the middle to find the end zone. McGovern split the pipes once again, and the Eagles surged ahead 41-27 with seven minutes left to play.
Harborfields wouldn’t go quietly, and Cunningham bulled his way up the middle for six points, but the extra-point attempt missed. Rocky Point put the game away with just under two minutes remaining when Rinaldi struck again, and the successful point-after brought the final score to 48-33.
“Harborfields is a tough team,” Lynch said. Opening the fourth quarter, the quarterback said: “We gotta get it done. We’ve just gotta find a way to get it done; it’s as simple as that.”
And the Eagles did.
Rocky Point will hit the road Saturday as the team heads to Miller Place. Opening kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.