It was a good night to be wearing uniform No. 4, and particularly good if that No. 4 was shaded Gray.
The many shades of Chris Gray were on display Friday night in a showdown between the top two seeded high school football teams in Suffolk County Division IV.
There was the offensive Gray, the Shoreham-Wading River senior who stampeded for 248 rushing yards and three touchdowns. But there was also the defensive Gray, who intercepted a pass and returned it 65 yards for the go-ahead touchdown in Shoreham’s 27-14 triumph over Miller Place at Shoreham’s Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field. Four touchdowns for No. 4.
Much of the game, played under a full moon and a clear night sky, shaped up as a showdown between the teams’ feature backs, Miller Place’s No. 4, Tyler Ammirato, and Shoreham’s Gray.
Fourth-place Shoreham (4-2), the two-time defending Long Island Class IV champion that had lost two of its three previous games, found itself faced with a formidable opponent in second-place Miller Place (4-2). The Panthers have only three returning starters from last year — Ammirato, Joe Filippetti and Shane White — but look at where the Panthers are now. After being dropped down from Division III, Miller Place, under first-year coach Greg Murphy, has been doing quite well.
Ammirato and Gray both entered the game with 15 touchdowns to their credit, tying them for second on Long Island with Mepham’s Mike Valentino, according to Newsday. Both players added to their totals.
It took only four plays from scrimmage for Shoreham to strike first, with Gray powering his way forward from two yards out. That score was preceded by a 62-yard dash down the left sideline by Kevin Cutinella.
Miller Place drew even on its first possession, Ammirato (19 carries, 142 yards) taking the ball in from seven yards out.
Four plays into the second quarter, Gray galloped three yards for his second TD, but Miller Place had an answer yet again on its next drive. That 11-play series culminated with another Ammirato touchdown, a 16-yarder in which the junior danced around the right end.
The teams proved to be a good match for each other. Shoreham hurt its own cause with penalties, but the Wildcats may have sensed they were a big play away from taking charge. That big play came when Gray picked off a pass and made his way back to the end zone, snapping a 14-14 tie with 8 minutes, 50 seconds left in the game.
After Miller Place went three and out on its next possession, Shoreham went three and in. This time Gray shook off a tackler and used a speed burst to the outside for a 22-yard scoring dash.
Photo caption: Chris Gray ran for 248 yards and three touchdowns in addition to returning an interception 65 yards for another Shoreham-Wading River touchdown. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)