Dylan Laube can actually feel that second-gear kick in.
The Westhampton senior star knows, if he gets an inch of open space, he’s off to the races and, more often than not, the end zone. Laube outran the entire Sayville defense, more than once, on Friday night, lifting the Hurricanes to a 23-8 victory and notching one of the program’s biggest wins in decades.
It was the first time Westhampton defeated the Golden Flashes since 1956.
“I practiced all summer on my speed, on my quickness and everything and I feel like when I find that vision, I just hit the hole,” said Laube, who racked up 259 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. “I know it’s going to happen.”
Westhampton, ranked No. 7 in the Tri-State Small School 15 by News 12 Varsity, jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter, but it wasn’t the Hurricanes’ potent ground game that sparked the initial jump. It was the squad’s defense.
The Hurricanes held on a fourth-and-one on Sayville's first possession of the night before turning around and marching 60 yards down the field. Liam McIntyre capped off the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run and give Westhampton a lead it would never surrender.
“We knew [Sayville] was a good team, they’re a respected team, the best team we’ve played and we knew it was going to be a dog fight,” McIntyre said. “So we just put our heads down and played tough football.”
It was all Westhampton (7-0) from there on out.
The Hurricanes padded their lead on a 1-yd Laube run late in the first quarter, just two plays after Nolan Quinlan picked off Sayville quarterback James Lyons.
The Golden Flashes (4-3) were without usual starting quarterback Jacob Cheshire, who suffered an injury against Kings Park last week, and Westhampton did its best to take advantage of Sayville’s miscues throughout the matchup.
“They weren’t at full strength, but we’ll take it any way we can get it,” Westhampton coach Bill Parry said. “They’re a very good football team and they’re going to be right there at the very end, but we played really well tonight. I can’t be prouder of my kids.”
Westhampton outgained Sayville 125-67 in the first half and while the Hurricanes came up empty on their sole second-quarter drive, the squad controlled tempo for every tick of the opening 24 minutes.
“We had an outstanding game,” Laube said. “Our defense, we thought in the beginning of the season was going to be shaky, but we’ve stepped it up. And each week we’ve gotten better and better.”
The Hurricanes, essentially, wrapped up the game on their second drive of the third quarter. Laube, looking to get just a few yards, or possibly a first down, burst up the middle of the field with 2:24 left in the frame, following his blockers and hitting that second gear for a 93-yard touchdown run.
It was more than enough to set Sayville back on its heels and, once again, showcase just what Laube is capable of.
“Every game he’s great,” Parry said. “[Sayville] had a great scheme against him, they really held him in check for the most part and then he just pops one. He’s a special kid, he really is.”
The Golden Flashes got on the board in the waning minutes of regulation, when Lyons found Nate Baulaund for an 11-yard strike, but it was too little, too late.
Westhampton’s ground game racked up over 300 total yards, while the defense allowed just two fourth down conversions in five attempts.
It was a big-time victory for the Hurricanes who have their eyes set on a Long Island Championship and, with just one game left in the regular season, are certain they’ve put the rest of the county on notice.
“This was probably our most important game of the year,” Laube said. “We took one game at a time, but we knew this game was going to be a big one. I think it sent a statement, definitely.”