The playoffs began for Bishop McGann-Mercy and Center Moriches on Friday night. Well, at least the game between the two Suffolk County Division IV football teams was tantamount to a playoff.
With both teams needing to win in order to have a shot at reaching the real playoffs, the hard-hitting game in Center Moriches featured playoff intensity — and the finality of defeat.
Despite showing dramatic improvement from last year, Mercy’s season came to an end with a 19-6 defeat on the new turf field owned by the Town of Brookhaven that lies adjacent to Center Moriches High School. The win brought Center Moriches’ record to 5-3. Mercy finished at 4-4, a vast jump from last year’s 1-7. The Monarchs were bidding to reach the playoffs for the third time in four years.
Entering the game, Center Moriches was in eighth place, two notches above Mercy in the power-rated standings. The top eight teams in the division will qualify for the postseason.
Senior running back John Mercado, determined not to play his final game for Center Moriches, ran for two touchdowns and 135 yards from 18 carries.
Both teams scored touchdowns within four plays from scrimmage of each other in the first quarter. The difference was, following Mercado’s first TD, Derek Pedone kicked in the extra point. Mercy’s kick failed following Ryan Razzano’s dazzling 57-yard score. Razzano had dropped back to pass before being pressured. He took the ball up the middle, made a sharp cut to the left and then jetted to the end zone.
It remained a one-point game until Emond Frazier’s 7-yard TD run on a quarterback keeper by the right pylon made it 13-6 on Center Moriches’ first series of the third quarter.
Mercado’s second TD of the night, a 1-yard run off right tackle with 3 minutes, 42 seconds left in the game, and an interception by Tim Delgado with 2:44 to go sealed the result.
Mercy moved the ball against the Red Devils, but hurt its cause with penalties and failure to capitalize on opportunities. On Mercy’s first series of the game, it advanced the ball to the Center Moriches 4-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs. Even more dramatically, in the third quarter, a 23-yard pass from Razzano to Liam Egan set Mercy up with a first-and-goal from the 1. But a fumbled snap on the next play was collected by Center Moriches’ Tyiquon Nix.
Razzano turned in a super performance. The junior ran 14 times for 118 yards and picked up another 110 yards on 10-for-16 passing. He also intercepted a pass on defense.
Photo caption: Bishop McGann-Mercy’s Paul Schmidt (5) low-fives teammates before the team’s game against Center Moriches Friday night. (Credit: Bob Liepa)