Wildcats advance to semis in football playoffs

Shoreham-Wading River ran all over Center Moriches en route to a 38-12 victory in the first round of the Section XI Division IV playoffs at Thomas Cutinella Memorial Field Friday evening.

The Wildcats fell behind early after a failed opening onside kick gave No. 5 Center Moriches (6-3) great field position. The Red Devils put the first score on the board with a 33-yard touchdown pass secured by Xavier Bryant. The extra point was blocked to keep the score 6-0.

On Center Moriches’ next possession, the offense stalled and then their punt was blocked by an onslaught of rushers, giving Shoreham-Wading River a short field. Kieran Clifford scampered 17 yards on a hand off into the end zone to give the Wildcats their first score and the successful conversion gave them the lead at 7-6. SWR’s up-tempo offense led to another score on their next possession, with Clifford again pushing into the end zone from the one-yard line. 

With 1:49 remaining until halftime, Zack Wilson forced a fumble in the Red Devils’ end which set up a Liam Kershis rushing touchdown to make it 21-6 with 29 seconds left in the half.

But just when it looked like Shoreham-Wading River (7-2) would go into halftime with a commanding lead, Center Moriches’ Matt Albino ripped off a 67-yard rushing touchdown. The Red Devils missed the two-point conversion and went into the locker room trailing 21-12.

The second half was all SWR. The Wildcats scored two more touchdowns, including the third rushing TD of the day for Clifford. SWR forced three turnovers in the second half including an interception by Liam Taylor.

Kershis had 20 carries for 134 yards and also caught three passes for 35 yards. Clifford rushed for 80 yards from the quarterback position. The duo was unstoppable all game long.

With the win, the Wildcats advance to the semifinals and will travel to No. 3 Babylon (7-2) on Friday. Babylon defeated Miller Place, 26-7 in the first round of the playoffs. SWR and Babylon didn’t face each other during the regular season.