Hurricanes pick up 18th straight win behind dominant defense

Westhampton Holds Off Half Hollow Hills

Westhampton’s Clarke Lewis rushes with the ball behind Liam McIntyre. Independent/Gordon M. Grant

Westhampton Beach’s football team had a rallying cry from day one of practice: Build their own legacy.

And in case you didn’t know, the Hurricanes still have a pretty good football team. Don’t believe it? All you had to do was witness the Hurricanes’ 17-14 win over Half Hollow Hills West in a battle of undefeated teams.

Westhampton (6-0) was reeling after the Colts’ opening touchdown drive October 13, but it didn’t last long. Nine seconds to be exact. That’s because Tyler Nolan returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown en route to what is now the Hurricanes’ 18th straight win.

As Nolan ran up the field, his teammates dashed down the sideline with him, leaping and shouting, grinning from ear-to-ear. What may have ignited the team and crowd more was the Hurricanes’ stifling defense, which held one of the county’s most high-powered offenses — averaging 33 points per game — scoreless in the second half. Fullback Liam McIntyre’s sack and Clarke Lewis’s blocked pass proved crucial on third downs during that span.

“Everyone thought we were going to lose once we lost Dylan Laube,” Nolan said of last season’s star running back. “But we’re proving Westhampton is here to play.”

Head coach Bryan Schaumloffel said while others may have doubted what his team could do, he never did. Not for a single second.

“Dylan Laube was a great player for us, and we love Dylan Laube, but a lot of people thought, ‘How are you going to do it without Dylan?’ And I thought we had great players,” he said. “Our guys wanted to prove this year that they’re good football players too. They feel they have something to prove. And I think they went out there and made a statement.”

Lewis’s fumble recovery in the first quarter was another big play at the right time. Westhampton received the ball on its own 11-yard line, and marched downfield, using a 33-yard catch by Jaden Alfano St. John (14 carries for 69 yards) and a nine-yard run by Nolan (16 carries for 76 yards) to get to the end zone. McIntrye punched it in to give the Hurricanes the lead.

“I think that was our nerves showing,” McIntyre said of the Colts’ first touchdown. “It’s human to hang your head and be upset about it, so to have Tyler have a huge run like that and even up the score, it lifts everyone up.”

After a Half Hollow Hills score and a blocked extra-point attempt, kicker Jackson Hulse nailed a 26-yard field goal with four seconds left in the half for the 17-13 lead.

Following the win, all McIntyre (17 carries for 61 yards and 12 tackles) could keep repeating was, “This feels so good.”

“We all worked hard all week in practice and all summer for this, and it’s showed on the field. Week in, week out we make stops. Every game up to this point we’ve let up just one or two touchdowns a game. To go 18-0, not many people can say they’ve done that, so it feels good,” he said, and smiled before adding, “And I can’t wait to get another win.”

desiree@indyeastend.com