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Football: SWR pulls away in second half against Port Jefferson

Shoreham-Wading River sophomore Xavier Arline scored four touchdowns to lead the Wildcats to a 42-12 victory over Port Jefferson in the first round of the Division IV playoffs Friday night.

It was the 13th straight playoff win for the Wildcats, the three-time defending Long Island champions, dating back to 2014.

Shoreham (7-2) scored the game’s final four touchdowns in what was a surprisingly close game through most of the first three quarters at Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field. The Wildcats never trailed, but the Royals made life difficult thanks to the arm of quarterback Jack Collins.

The 6-foot-3 senior dropped back 45 times, under heavy pressure at times from the Wildcats’ defense, and tallied 309 passing yards. He threw two touchdowns, including a 95-yard strike early in the third quarter to senior Marquis Feldman, who broke free down the left sideline after completing a catch on the run. The touchdown cut Shoreham’s lead to 14-12, an uncomfortably close score for the second half, considering the Wildcats had beaten Port Jefferson 44-0 a week earlier in the regular season finale.

But the Wildcats took control from there.

Kyle Boden scored on a 18-yard run less than two minutes later to make it a two-possession game. The defense kept the Royals off the scoreboard the remainder of the game and Arline scored touchdowns from 25, 37 and 46 yards.

The third-seeded Wildcats advance to the Division IV semifinals and are one win away from playing for a fourth consecutive county championship. The teams are re-seeded after the first round.

Arline rushed for 167 yards and Boden added 72. The Wildcats relied almost entirely on a ground attack in stark contrast to the Royals’ passing attack. Arline threw the ball three times, completing one pass for 30 yards to Kyle Lutz.

The Wildcats opened the game with a bang when junior Dom Visintin returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. It was the only score in the first quarter. Shoreham went ahead 14-0 on Arline’s first touchdown, a 3-yard run with 8:08 left in the second quarter. The Royals answered with a touchdown of their own when Collins connected with Thomas Mark for a 24-yard pass play and touchdown on fourth-and-15. Mark caught seven passes.

Shoreham’s defense didn’t allow anything on the ground. The Royals tallied just 31 rushing yards on 15 carries. Anthony Cimino and Visintin both recorded interceptions for Shoreham. Visintin returned his for a touchdown, but the play was called back for a penalty. Cimino injured his shoulder while getting tackled following his interception and injured his shoulder. Shoreham coach Matt Millheiser said it was second time he injured the shoulder this season and he would likely be out for the remainder of the season.

Photo caption: With a trio of blockers in front of him (No. 2 Ethan Baumback, No. 76 Daniel Curtin and No. 40 Jake Wilson), Xavier Arline breaks his fourth touchdown run of the game. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)

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Port Jefferson quarterback Jack Collins under pressure from DJ Brown. (Credit: Joe Werkmeister)