Football: Wildcats shine under the lights against Port Jefferson

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River sophomore Isreal Squires makes a leaping grab against Port Jefferson Friday night.


“Friday Night Lights” was the main attraction at Shoreham-Wading River High School, and the Wildcats put on a show.

Tyler Anderson took center stage, running for three touchdowns to lead the Wildcats to a 34-6 victory Friday over Port Jefferson in Suffolk County Division IV football — the first night football game at Shoreham in more than a decade.

“It’s the classic high school game that you live for,” said Anderson, who rushed for 140 yards on 15 carries, pacing a Wildcats offense that rushed for 289 yards. “Just to come down here and have the huge crowd here, it’s really special for us.”

“The kids were jacked up,” said Shoreham-Wading River coach Matt Millheiser. “I’m happy that we were able to provide this experience. The school was great, people donated their time to help — it was really, really nice. A night game like this, when they came out and got a win, they’re going to remember this for a long time.”

The Shoreham-Wading River community turned out in droves for the special event, made possible by a donation of portable lights by Pirraglia Contracting. Jeff McAuley — whose son, Zack, kicked four extra points after playing in the SWR boys’ soccer team’s 3-1 win over Mount Sinai in the afternoon — said the money raised during the game will be added to the continuing fundraising efforts that will pay for the “Field of Dreams” project, which will include a new press box and bleachers, rest rooms and permanent lights.

The big stage was the perfect venue for the Wildcats (2-1) to get back on track after a tough shutout loss to Mount Sinai last weekend.

“It was important to get things going again, gain a little confidence, and to play well,” Millheiser said. “I think they did that right off the bat, and it continued all the way throughout, from the first guys, to the second guys and third guys.”

The Wildcats started the first half strong and finished the same way, scoring two touchdowns in the first 5:11 and adding two more in the final 4:49 to take a 27-0 lead at halftime.

Anderson got it started on the game’s opening drive, scoring untouched on a 39-yard run to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead just after just 2:03. After the Royals went three-and-out, Isreal Squires scored on a 40-yard touchdown run on a reverse, racing down the left sideline and into the end zone. The point-after attempt was blocked, and the Wildcats led, 13-0.

Superior blocking up front set up both scoring runs.

“Our o-line did a tremendous job, and when they go, we go,” Millheiser said. “When the line is getting off the ball and doing things right, it makes it easy for our backs to run through big holes.”

“The offensive line was kicking butt up and down the field, and it makes running real easy,” added Anderson. “They did a great job today.”

The Shoreham defense, meanwhile, kept the Royals bottled up. Port Jefferson opened with three straight three-and-outs, and after a fourth punt from deep in Royals territory, the Wildcats mounted a five-play scoring drive that featured a 14-yard pass from Danny Hughes to Squires, followed by an eight-yard touchdown run by Anderson for a 20-0 Wildcats lead.

The Royals (1-2) turned it over on their next possession, when Squires intercepted a halfback option pass by Tyler D’Accardo. Eight plays later, Hughes hit Mitch Identsohn over the middle for a 25-yard touchdown pass with just 10 seconds left in the second quarter.

Port Jefferson got on the board in the third quarter on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Justin Jones to Matt Taroli. The Wildcats, however, ground-and-pounded the game away.

Kevin Kelley came in at quarterback and Avery Friedman took the bulk of the carries in the second half, finishing with 75 yards rushing on 12 attempts.

Millheiser noted that unlike in seasons past, the Wildcats have several weapons to choose from. “When Tyler needs a break, we don’t really lose anything when Avery comes in,” he said. “Avery is a tremendous back — it’s like having a 1 and a 1A.”

A Port Jefferson fumble late in the third quarter led to Anderson’s third touchdown of the night, this one from 16 yards out on a run around the right end.

The Wildcats continue the season Sept. 29 against East Hampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson at East Hampton High School. Game time is 2 p.m.