Senior runs 9 times and scores TD on the go-ahead drive as Clippers beat El
Bellport running back Anthony Rountree was explaining
his role on the Clippers' 82-yard, fourth-quarter go-ahead scoring drive, when
his coach interrupted him.
"What did I tell you?" Bellport coach Joe Cipp said.
"You told me to step it up," Rountree responded.
"I said, 'I'm going with you,' right?" Cipp continued. "That's what's
important. He put the game on his shoulders and did a great job."
East Islip led 16-12 early in the fourth quarter when Rountree took control
on an 11-play, 6:35 scoring drive for Bellport. The senior ran nine times, had
Clippers ahead by three.
The defense then forced a three-and-out, and No. 3 Bellport added another
score with 18 seconds left in its 26-16 win over No. 6 East Islip yesterday in
a Suffolk Division II quarterfinal game at Bellport.
Rountree had 25 carries - 10 in the fourth quarter - before he left during
Bellport's final scoring drive with a right ankle injury. "I knew I had to run
hard for my team because we were in a tough position," said Rountree, who
walked under his own power after the game.
Bellport (7-2) took a 12-0 first-quarter lead behind Rountree, who gathered
46 yards on the Clippers' first two drives, and quarterback Jack Nickla, who
ended those drives with option-right touchdown runs of 20 and 30 yards.
But East Islip (4-5) responded in the second and third quarters, outscoring
Bellport 16-0 on an 8-yard Mike Rooney run and three field goals by reliable
kicker Sean Moller. Moller hit from 32 yards twice and also from 40. The
latter, kicked through a driving rain, gave EI a 16-12 lead, which it took into
the fourth quarter.
"If any of those scoring drives went for touchdowns, we would have really
been in the hole," Cipp said. "But our defense held them to field goals, and we
had the opportunity to go 80 yards and shove it down their throats, which is
what Bellport football is all about."
The middle of the game belonged to East Islip, but the middle of the field
was Bellport's. Most of Rountree's runs were between the tackles. Malcolm
Stewart replaced the injured Rountree on the final drive and executed the same
plays, finishing with 36 yards and a 4-yard TD run.
"We knew that's what they were going to do with us," said East Islip coach
Sal Ciampi, whose team was the defending Long Island Class II champ. "With us
being a young team, the teams that were able to this year gave us trouble."