SUFFOLK DIVISION IV QUALIFYING ROUND | WILDCATS 56, RED DEVILS 29
More than anything, it was a testament to the offensive firepower of Shoreham-Wading River’s football team and Tyler Anderson’s running ability.
To put things in perspective, Center Moriches is not a bad offensive team itself, with several weapons to draw upon. So, perhaps a shootout was inevitable in the Suffolk County Division IV qualifying round game on Saturday in Shoreham. The statistics put up were video game-esque. Just look at them: A total of 85 points were scored. Over 1,100 yards of offense were registered. The Wildcats picked up 504 of those yards on the ground alone. Their star running back, Tyler Anderson, ran for 401 yards himself and scored five touchdowns.
Of course, the numbers that counted most favored the Wildcats, who on their record day picked up their second career playoff win, 56-29. It was the most points the Wildcats have ever scored in the six playoff games they have played in their history. Now the fourth-seeded Wildcats (7-2) want to set another team record — for the most playoff wins in a year. To do that, they will have to upset No. 1 Babylon (9-0), the defending Long Island champion, when the teams play in a county semifinal Friday night. No easy task. Babylon defeated the Wildcats, 36-14, on Sept. 20.
But Saturday was Shoreham’s day.
No one had a bigger game — and more gaudier numbers — than Anderson. The senior was handed the ball 27 times, ran for four touchdowns (including as 78-yarder to help cap the scoring) and caught a 19-yard pass for another touchdown. He also had scoring runs of 36, 32 and 18 yards. In addition, he had 51 receiving yards from two catches.
Three of the five completions by Shoreham’s quarterback, Danny Hughes, went for touchdowns, two by Isreal Squires (two catches, 84 yards). Hughes also ran for a touchdown and had 92 yards on nine carries.
Following Anderson’s first touchdown of the day, a surprise onside kick by Shoreham’s Zack MacAuley was recovered by teammate Daniel Smith. Two plays later, Hughes hooked up on a 48-yard connection for Squires’ second touchdown. MacAuley’s extra point — one of a school-record eight for him in the game — with 5 minutes 32 seconds left in the first quarter, made the score 21-8.
The Wildcats were off and running. They generated 658 yards worth of offense.
Center Moriches (6-3), which came off a 1-7 season, picked up most of its 446 yards through the air. Tyrell Thomas threw for 288 yards and two touchdowns from 14-of-22 passing. Tarik Rountree (nine catches, 126 yards) caught two of those touchdown passes and John-Cody Cerverizzo (three catches, 136 yards) pulled in the other.
Herbert Plummer (seven carries, 88 yards) took a lateral and darted around the left side 53 yards for Center Moriches’ first touchdown. A Thomas pass to Cerverizzo for the 2-point conversion gave the Red Devils a brief 8-7 lead. It lasted 65 seconds before an Anderson touchdown dash put the Wildcats ahead to stay. The Wildcats produced touchdowns on their first three possessions.
Center Moriches, which has reached the playoffs four times in six years, has yet to experience a playoff win. Their cause wasn’t helped by five turnovers. Shoreham, which has won five of its last six games, did not turn the ball over once.
Chris Rosati recovered two fumbles for the Wildcats and Brennan Gorman came up with another one. Rosati also intercepted a pass, as did Squires. Aaron Harley-Rey led the team with 8 tackles, 5 of them solo.
Thomas made 9 tackles and defended three passes for Center Moriches.