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Football: Surprise, surprise. Look at who’s 4-2

One can forget about all that No. 12 preseason seeding and newcomer to Suffolk County Division I stuff. The Riverhead football team is no longer a surprise.

So, maybe you can’t call Riverhead’s 28-21 victory over Patchogue-Medford Saturday a surprise, but it was a shot in the arm to the team’s playoff chances.

“It’s been a while since we’ve had a quality win like this,” coach Leif Shay said. “You know, it was great to come to somebody’s homecoming and let them know, not today. They’re not going to celebrate today.”

All the celebrating came on the Riverhead side. The Blue Waves are 4-2 with games remaining at Commack and at home to Walt Whitman, who were 3-2 and 1-4, respectively, at the start of the day.

When it was pointed out that Riverhead had crashed Patchogue’s homecoming party, running back/defensive back Albert Daniels said: “Yeah, we did. It was beautiful … We just came out and put on a show.”

That show featured a bunch of highlights from Daniels, who surpassed 1,100 rushing yards for the season. The senior ran with determination 42 times for 230 yards and three touchdowns, his 13th, 14th and 15th of the season. For the year, Daniels has 1,186 yards from 160 carries.

And yet, it was hard to overlook a tremendous game by outside linebacker Rayvon Moore. All the junior did was block a punt, make an interception, force two fumbles and recover a fumble. “He played like a demon today,” said Daniels.

Riverhead’s defense shined, forcing five turnovers by the Raiders (the Blue Waves had none). Tyreek Earl Parker turned in another strong game with a game-high eight tackles and a fumble recovery. Isaiah Barbieri had an interception, fumble recovery and five tackles. Patchogue (4-2) was held to 87 rushing yards.

Riverhead had made a bold move. Senior David Squires, who had started all the previous games at quarterback, was moved to wide receiver while junior C.J. Dorr was given his first start at QB. That move eventually paid off. Squires was targeted four times, the fourth being his only reception, good for a 39-yard TD catch. Squires said, “I saw the safety bite down on Barbieri and I was just like, ‘I’m going to the house.’ ” Recep Kocan’s extra point gave Riverhead a 21-7 lead with 1 minute and 56 seconds left in the third quarter.

Shay said he expects to keep Dorr at QB and Squires at WR.

“He played wide receiver last year,” Shay said. “He knows the offense from there. He did us a great service by playing quarterback and letting the young kid learn and get some time under his belt, and we just felt like the young kid was ready and we could get another weapon on the outside.”

Riverhead stretched its lead to 28-7 five plays into the fourth quarter on Daniels’ third score. Patchogue replied shortly after with a big play, a 77-yard TD pass from Tyree Jackson (10 of 26, 153 yards) to Marc Anthony Pedrosa (six catches, 117 yards).

After a 32-yard field-goal attempt by Kocan was blocked by Jake LaMonica, Patchogue pulled itself back in the game with Angelo DeVita’s second TD run of the day. But the Blue Waves were able to run out the final 3:33 with six Daniels carries and a knee by Dorr.

“We played blood, sweat and tears,” Moore said. “That’s how I describe us. We came out, played for each other.”

The game started on the right foot for Riverhead. After failing to gain a first down on the game-opening possession, Patchogue punted. Moore and Gaines-Bullock both shot through the line to pressure punter Connor Hughes. Moore got the block and the ball flew out of bounds at the Patchogue 4-yard line. Daniels ran it in on the next play.

“I came out with a lot of energy,” said Moore, who called it the best game of his life. “It was a good crowd and I just played the best that I could.”

Patchogue was seeded 11th, but entered the game two spots above eighth-place Riverhead in the standings.

“The defense was playing amazing,” Squires said. “The offense was playing good. It’s a good statement win for us.”

The statement would be: Riverhead just might be a playoff player in Division I.

“Playoff picture, as far as I know, I’m not a power points expert, but I know when you beat a 4-and-1 team, you get a lot of points,” Shay said. “We still have to win two more games. That’s how we’re looking at it. We want to win every game we can win and try to get the highest seed we can.”

What they got Saturday was a nice boost in that direction.

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Photo caption: David Squires, moved from quarterback to wide receiver, races to the end zone for a 39-yard touchdown reception with 1:56 left in the third quarter. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)