Football: Cheatom returns, but Riverhead’s defense falters

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Riverhead running back Jeremiah Cheatom scored two touchdowns Saturday against East Islip.


The added jolt Jeremiah Cheatom provides Riverhead’s offense is unmistakable. The Blue Waves on Saturday were more than happy to welcome back their senior running back, who missed Week 1 and most of training camp with a hamstring injury.

Cheatom quickly reminded everyone why he’s one of the top backs in Division II. But even the added boost of Cheatom’s running wasn’t enough to overcome a multi-threat offense of East Islip.

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | Riverhead quarterback Cody Smith drops back to pass in the first quarter Saturday.

Behind four touchdowns from senior running back Erik Adon, the Redmen won a shootout, 50-36, on homecoming at East Islip.

The Blue Waves (1-1) took a 22-21 lead on the first possession of the second half when quarterback Cody Smith threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Jaron Greenidge, who also hauled in a two-point conversion pass from sophomore Ryun Moore.

But after that play, the East Islip (2-0) offense rolled off three straight touchdowns, all on runs from Adon to blow open what had been a close, back-and-forth game.

The preseason No. 1 seed, East Islip showed off an ability to score in a variety of ways. Their big, tough offensive line put the Blue Waves in a position to have take some chances on defense. And when the holes were there, East Islip’s runners converted.

Quarterback Jack Hannigan threw two long touchdowns, a 75-yarder to Matt Walter and a 66-yarder to Hugens Tranquille. Walter rushed for a second touchdown late in the fourth quarter, a 33-yard scamper for the final East Islip touchdown.

While the Blue Waves’ defense faltered, the offense showed it can put up some big numbers this year. Cheatom rushed for more than 170 yards and scored twice. Wide receiver Dan Czelatka caught two touchdown passes, the second one coming from backup quarterback Ken Simco with 2:07 left in the fourth quarter.

Starter Cody Smith threw two touchdowns.

The Blue Waves capitalized early in the game on some East Islip miscues. The Redmen coughed the ball up on the opening kickoff, giving Riverhead great field position to start the game. After East Islip’s first touchdown, the Redmen’s next two possessions ended with an interception. Czelatka and Ryan Hubbard both came down with picks.

East Islip didn’t turn the ball over again. Instead, the Redmen scored touchdowns on six of their next seven possessions.

Riverhead can walk away from the game knowing it can compete with one of the top teams in the league. And also the knowledge that last year after losing in East Islip, the Blue Waves still went on to win the county championship.

Riverhead returns to action next week at home against Central Islip.

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