The streak began inconspicuously enough, a 35-7 win over Center Moriches on Sept. 12, 2014. But it wasn’t until the following week when the Shoreham-Wading River football team sent shockwaves throughout the county by putting an end to Babylon’s 25-game win streak.
On Friday night, in an eerily similar scenario, the roles between the two teams reversed.
The Wildcats, now the two-time defending Class IV champions and riding a 25-game win streak of their own, faced off against Babylon under the lights at Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field. Just as it did two years ago, the streak came to an end.
The Panthers rallied from a 14-point hole to win an overtime thriller, 27-21. It was the first loss for the Wildcats since the semifinals of the 2013 playoffs when Babylon won, 42-13. It had been 1,036 days since that last Shoreham loss.
Babylon quarterback Scott Sasso connected on a 9-yard pass play to Noah Parker in overtime that gave the Panthers their first lead of the game. In overtime, both teams receive a possession at the 20-yard line. The Wildcats won the toss and elected to play defense first. A missed extra point from Babylon after the touchdown provided a glimmer of hope that the Wildcats could answer and win the game.
But with quarterback Kevin Cutinella on the sideline for the first two plays of overtime as he dealt with an injury, the Wildcats only went backward. A Panthers’ sack put the Wildcats into a daunting third-and-20. Two incomplete passes ended the game, and the streak, as the celebration ensued on the Babylon sideline.
Sasso scored two rushing touchdowns and threw another to Shawn Kaminsky.
Shoreham running back Chris Gray had career highs across the board with 138 yards on 22 carries and scored all three Shoreham touchdowns. But it wasn’t enough.
The Wildcats (1-1) took a 21-7 lead into halftime, but the offense never got on track in the second half. The Panthers tied the game in the fourth quarter after a high snap in punt formation gave the Panthers the ball at the Shoreham 3-yard line. Three players later, Sasso ran it in from a yard out.
The Wildcats mounted what appeared to be the defining drive of the game on the next possession. But the 13-play drive fizzled after a holding penalty and on a fourth-and-8 from the Panthers’ 24, the Wildcats threw incomplete, turning the ball over on downs with 1:19 remaining in regulation.
Babylon (2-0) quickly went three-and-out, and the Wildcats put all 11 players on the line of scrimmage to try to block the punt. But the Panthers got off a deep punt, and with no kick returner back, the Wildcats were too far back with too little time to start another drive. It would come down to overtime.
Photo caption: The Babylon football team celebrates in the background after ending the Wildcats’ streak Friday night. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)