Patchogue-Medford had one main objective entering the Suffolk County Division I quarterfinals Friday: keep the ball away from Dalton Crossan as much as possible.
Midway through the first quarter that came tumbling down quickly for the Raiders when Crossan scurried his way through the field en route to a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Crossan performed his usual highlight routine, later intercepting a pass for a touchdown, and carrying 10 times for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns in Sachem’s 35-7 win at Fred Fusaro Alumni Stadium.
The Flaming Arrows (8-1) advance to the Division I semifinals next week, against the lowest remaining seed in the playoffs.
“We ran into a buzz saw,” said Patchogue-Medford coach James Chiarello. “He’s electric everywhere. Our objective was to keep the ball away from him. Unfortunately we kicked the ball right to him on a punt and he goes to the house. It’s too much when you have a special kid on the team like that over there.”
Although the score doesn’t dictate a lack of offensive production and time of possession, Sachem played one of its most uncharacteristic games of the season. Pat-Med (4-5) ran 61 offensive plays compared to Sachem’s 26. Three fumbles in the second half didn’t help.
Enter Crossan. Noticing this trend in the first half, Crossan stepped into his role as playmaker and manufactured points wherever possible.
“Whenever the ball is anywhere near me I jump at the opportunity,” the Hansen Award hopeful said. “I don’t shy away from it. I was fortunate to be put in the right spots on the punt return and interception, which I think made up for the lack of offense.”
After Crossan put Sachem up 7-0 with the punt return, Mike O’Donnell hit Vincent Provenzano with an 18-yard touchdown pass that was tipped into his hands in the end zone by a Patchogue-Medford defender.
Sachem capitalized on a fumble recovery on the next series when Crossan ran for a 29-yard touchdown on first down. The Flaming Arrows took a 21-0 lead into halftime. Crossan scored two more touchdowns in the second half, a 60-yard interception return and 1-yard dive run, which was spurred by an initial 67 rush down field.
“We were a little sloppy offensively,” said Sachem coach Dave Falco. “We put too many balls on the ground, but the game played out like we thought.”
Patchogue-Medford (4-5) had a strong second half in 2011, clinching a playoff spot in the final week and making the post-season for the first time in three years.
Raiders quarterback Jack Keough was 8-for-15 passing for 69 yards and two interceptions. He carried 6 times for 15 yards and scored Pat-Med’s only touchdown on a 3-yard rush in the final two minutes.
Fourth and Long
- Sachem has won the last six meetings between the schools and has a 32-18-2 record against the Raiders dating back to 1962.
- Other stats: Pat-Med’s Connor Coughlin led all receivers with 4 catches for 55 yards. Patchogue’s Chris Makulik had 18 carries for 52 yards. Patchogue out-gained Sachem 201-168 in offensive yardage.
1........ 2........ 3........ 4........ F
Sachem 7........ 14....... 7........ 7........ 35
Pat-Med 0........ 0......... 0........ 7......... 7
-S: Crossan 72 punt return, Morris kick
-S: O'Donnell to Provenzano 18 pass, Morris kick
-S: Crossan 29 run, Morris kick
-S: Crossan 60 interception return, Morris kick
-S: Crossan 1 run, Morris kick
-P: Keough 3 run, Altrui kick