The Riverhead Blue Waves will have to be content with the Suffolk County Division II title.
Saturday, the locals came tantalizingly close to capturing the Long Island title. In fact, Riverhead took a 16-7 lead into the locker room at halftime against Garden City, the Nassau II champ. At the time, things were rolling along right on schedule – the Waves potent offense was moving the ball and its underrated defense stymied the Trojans.
But a half does not a football game make.
Riverhead drew first blood when quarterback Ryan Blitzer -- who enjoyed a wondrous season – found Jaron Greenidge in the first quarter with a six yard scoring strike, though the point after attempt failed. Garden City quarterback Brett Stewart responded, leading the Trojans downfield and nailing a 28 yarder to Ed Blatz for a 7-6 lead.
Riverhead retaliated behind the powerful running of Jeremiah Cheatom, who scored on a one-yard plunge. Devrim Kucuk added a 35-yard field goal in the second quarter.
The Garden City team that emerged from the tunnel at LaValle Stadium at Stony Brook proved to be an entirely different animal than the one that retired there at halftime.
Cheatom, who had run wild in the first half (198 yards), found the going tough as the undersized Trojans stacked the line and gang tackled. Blitzer tried to respond through the air, but was able to complete only 9 of his 19 attempts.
Stewart, meanwhile, had the hot hand on the other side of the ball. He hit Blatz with a 23 yarder in the third quarter to narrow the gap to 16-14, and then scored again on a bootleg later in the quarter to put the Trojans up for good. He scored again in the fourth to seal the deal. The final was 27-16. On the day Stewart threw for 199, ran for 140, and accounted for all four touchdowns for the winners, who finished at 11-1.
Greenidge finished with three catches good for 37 yards for Riverhead (9-3). Cheatom tallied 224 rushing yards on the afternoon.