By Connor Beach
The Blue Devils won a nail-biter Saturday, defeating Riverhead, 20-19, to send their fans home happy from Homecoming.
Huntington football fans, including an enthusiastic contingent from the senior class, filled the bleachers at Blue Devils Stadium on to see what was the team’s final regular season home game.
Out of the gate, the Blue Devils and Blue Waves were in a stalemate. Huntington senior Luke Eidle led a stout defense with 11 tackles and an interception. Meanwhile on offense, junior running back Sebastian Abreu rushed four times for 26 yards.
However, Huntington couldn’t get on the scoreboard in the first half. Riverhead, instead, scored a touchdown, the only points of the half, with 6:50 left remaining in the second quarter.
The crowd, however, remained supportive and took in the halftime show, which included an appearance by Huntington High School’s marching band, which performed patriotic composition “Americana” before heading to a competition later that day. The band was followed by a Huntington Highsteppers dance routine.
Superintendent James Polansky then crowned Homecoming King and Queen Ryan Smith and Alexandra Lourenso.
The Huntington senior class’ Hollywood-themed float that drifted through the streets during the homecoming parade earlier in the day was named the winner of the annual float competition.
The Blue Devils then took the field at the start of the third quarter with renewed energy and tied the score, 7-7, on senior running back Eric Sands’ five-yard score that capped a sustained Blue Devils drive. Senior kicker Nat Amato added the extra point.
Riverhead answered with a scoring drive of its own and the third quarter ended with Huntington trailing, 13-7.
Halfway through the fourth, Sands carried the ball in on a two-yard touchdown run that capped off his 132-yard, two-touchdown performance.
With the score tied at 13 and 6:22 left to play, Huntington junior quarterback John Paci rifled the most important of his four completions to senior receiver Alex LaBella for a 76-yard touchdown which ultimately put the Blue Devils ahead, 20-13.
Riverhead did score again with just over a minute to play, but failed on a possible game-winning two-point conversion attempt.
With the win the Blue Devils improved to 5-2 on the year and secured a playoff berth. Their final game of the regular season is slated for Saturday, 2:30 p.m. at Bay Shore.