Over the course of the 1990's Harborfields was a force. They were nearly perfect, winning four Suffolk County Championships, two Long Island Championships, and two coveted Rutgers Trophies. Harborfields had two talented backs, Josh Johnston and Darwin Powell. Their O-line was huge, lead by Mike Meritet 6'2'' 245 pounds, Dennis Harmon 6'1'' 240 pounds, and Center Matt Case 6'1" 300 pounds. As reported by Newsday the Harborfields Tornadoes were heavily favored to win the title again.
On the opening kickoff of the second half, Harborfields returned the ball all the way to Babylon's 11 yard line and ran it in for a touchdown a few plays later. The extra point was wide right leaving the score at 14-6. Babylon's next drive was stopped after completing two first downs, and they were forced to punt. From here on out Babylon's defense would play like they never have. Harborfields drove the ball down to the Babylon's 20 yard line, but the Panthers continued to play strong, stuffing the run for three straight downs. On 4th down Matt Bemiss rolled out to his right and hooked up with Powell who caught the ball in the back of the end zone. With all of Powell's momentum running up field, he caught the ball out of bounds. Unfortunately, on Babylon's next possession they turned the ball over. Condra threw an interception and the Tornadoes were at the 22 yard line. Things didn't look to be going Babylon's way, but on second down from the 19 yard line, Blake Gillette rushed through the line and caused a fumble. The Panthers recovered the ball, making it their fourth fumble recovery of the day. Now late in the fourth quarter with around 55 seconds left in the game, Babylon's defense had to stop the massive Harborfields' rushing attack. The Tornadoes went to the air. Matt Bemiss threw a deep ball and connected with Johnson who carried the ball down to Babylon's 5 yard line. On first down the Defensive Line played tight, not letting up any yardage. Harborfields' next attempt was a fade pass which was tipped away by Condra. On third down Schultheis tackled Powell who attempted to run the ball outside to the left. On fourth down the ball was placed at the 7 yard line with 32 seconds remaining on the clock. Harborfields called for a pass, Bemiss dropped back where he was faced with fierce rush from Martin Pusey. Pusey's intense pressure caused Bemiss to roll to his right. He released the ball, but it was batted down at the line of scrimmage by Trevon Rodney. The Panthers then took a knee to run out the remaining time on the clock. With a remarkable victory over the potent Harborfields Tornadoes, Babylon would advance to the Long Island Championship!!!
"He missed it"
"The Rubber Match"
Babylon hits! The Babylon Panthers successfully defended their Class IV Long Island Championship at Hofstra University's Shuart Stadium Friday afternoon in a dense fog with a enough drops to call it rainy. This was the third time the Panthers faced roosevelt. They beat the highly heralded Roosevelt Roughriders 22-15, in a thriller that matched Roosevelt's strong ground attack against Babylon's rugged defense. The Panthers have gone to the Island final six times in the last seven years, winning three including this season's repeat. During that stretch, they faced Roosevelt three times, winning twice.
Once again it was Babylon's excellent ball control and rock-ribbed D that did the job. The Panthers had 63 plays from scrimmage to the Riders' 44. Babylon had a season high 18 first downs in the game and hogged the first half clock 18 minutes to 6. But the exciting Roosevelt attack showed plenty of deke as tailback Daryle McClenic shaked, baked and raced for a net 160 yards on 21 carries, tacked on 68 yards in returns and added an interception on defense. Roosevelt had 208 yards rushing to Babylon's 183.
But Babylon's defense came to win and rose to the task when it counted. The front wall - Evan Brander, Nick Fowler, Andrew Butler, Oliver Escano and Mike Ettl - was too much for the Rider line. They forced Roosevelt into an outside game which partially succeeded. But linebackers Mike Drescher, Dan Tyminski, Mike Parrinello, Darien Moodie and Darin Reddish were able to contain much of the breakthroughs and the secondary, Mike Breitfeller, Justin Muller and Brett Tiedemann hemmed in the long game. Babylon penetrated for sacks by Tiedemann, Drescher and Butler. The turnover edge went to the Panthers 4-1 with fumble recoveries by Moodie, Brander, Ettl and Butler.
Babylon drew first blood. Their opening drive went 58 yards on eleven plays with tailback Steve Hurst picking up a block by Tyminski to score around left end. Parrinello added the first of his two extra point kicks. For the game, Hurst had 20 carries for 75 yards and added another fifteen with a pass reception. Kicking off for the first time ever, Fowler blasted one through the Roosevelt end zone. Roosevelt tied it early in the second quarter when quarterback Marquise Herron dove in from the 1-foot line to cap an eight-play, 45-yard drive. Juan Turcios added the extra point.
The Panthers calmly roared back, stalking to paydirt on an 80-yard drive that took nineteen plays and almost eight and a half minutes. The key play came on fourth and two at the Babylon 42. Babylon showed plenty by going for it and Steve Hurst picked up the first down through a gap opened by Fowler and Ettl. The march was capped when Mike Bihary banged in behind Russell Cruz and John Goytia on fourth and inches. At this point, Roosevelt melted a bit. Two penalties put the ball on the 1 for Bihary to slam in for the 2-point conversion. With less than two minutes remaining in the half, Parrinello's ensuing kickoff was elusive and Moodie recovered the slippery pigskin at the Rider 35. A penalty took the Panthers to the 20, but a sack by Marvin Caswell moved them back to the 27. On fourth and 17, quarterback Tiedemann gunned to the right side of the end zone where Justin Muller leaped over the defender to haul it in with three ticks remaining on the clock. Babylon's end game play nearing halftime has been marvelous all season and they took a 22-7 lead into the half.
For the first time this year, Babylon didn't win the third quarter. Fowler's second end zone kickoff put the Riders on their own 20. On the first play, McClenic raced up the middle for 64 yards, finally tracked down by Moodie. Three plays later, he slashed through left tackle from the 5 for the TD. On Roosevelt's next possession, they went 62 yards on 11 plays. But Brander recovered a fumble at the 1 to stop it. On the next play, as Babylon tried to get out of the deep hole, Hurst was tackled at the goal line and the play was ruled a safety. That put the score at 22-15.
Following the safety, Fowler's third huge kick (from the Babylon 20) put the Riders back on their own 20. Two plays later, Herron was chased back to the 1 by Tyminski and Moodie. Breitfeller carried a punt to the 21, but a penalty took Babylon back to the 34. McClenic's pick at the Panther 9 ended the Babylon drive and Roosevelt began one of their own. Starting at their 17, they moved all the way to the Panther 4. The drive was stopped on another fumble, with Ettl at the bottom of the pile in possession. The Babylon hit machine was just too much. Roosevelt was thwarted at every attempt and the Panther D stopped them the remainder of the way. Babylon wound up running out the clock at the Rider 16.
Cries in the press box suggested Roosevelt blew it on turnovers. Bunkosity! Babylon hits! They did it - forcing fumbles and sacks again and again and again. And on their side of the ball, center Steve Kazda's unerring snaps and Josh Carlock's downfield blocks kept Babylon in possession.
In the post game ceremony, coach Rick Punzone acknowledged Babylon's terrific community support and extended congratulations to Roosevelt's fine team saying they'd be back in the final next year. Athletic Director Bob Mayo said, "I couldn't be more proud. Good coaching and the kids did it. It's so meaningful especially against a superb opponent like Roosevelt." Former Babylon super back Trevon Rodney was at the game and has followed the team's progress. Trevon said, "This game was unpredictable, ultimately won by a great group of kids. Babylon may be small, but they always do it. Mr. Punzone was a great defensive coach. I miss Babylon, but make the games whenever I can. You can't just leave Babylon. You always come back."
A few stats for the year. Babylon finished the season at 10-1 and outscored the opponents 284-108. The team rushed for 2429 yards, an average of 4.6 per carry and passed for 885 yards, an average of 9.7 per attempt. The defense held the opposition to a total 1456 rushing and 922 passing. The Panthers chalked up 153 first downs to the adversaries' 111. Babylon won the battle of turnovers 28-14. Individually, quarterback Brett Tiedemann completed 50 of 88 passes for 885 yards and fourteen TDs and added 86 carries for 477 yards rushing. Fullback Dan Tyminski ran for 582 yards on 111 carries and tailback Steve Hurst 596 on 144. Hurst also had 202 yards in returns and 222 receiving for a total 1020 all-purpose yards. Receiver Pete O'Hara caught 22 passes for 409 yards and nine TDs to lead the county. Kicker Mike Parrinello converted 26 out of 29 attempts and his average kickoff went to the 13-yard line.
Babylon's successful football program is getting its due respect across the Island with extensive media coverage. Each of the playoff games for Babylon and all other post season contenders has been seen on the replays by Landers Sports Productions carried on Telecare each week.
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