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Newsday Article - North Babylon Game

Posted Saturday, October 01, 2011 by Ray Nelson

Melhado's debut at QB winner for W. Babylon

West Babylon High School quarterback #5 Clifton Melhado

Photo credit: James Escher | West Babylon High School quarterback #5 Clifton Melhado throws a pass in the third quarter of a Suffolk County Class II varsity football game vs. North Babylon at West Babylon Junior High School. (Sept. 9, 2011)

Call this an early-season discovery. West Babylon junior Clifton Melhado, in his first varsity start at quarterback, threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as West Babylon rolled to a 43-22 win over North Babylon Friday in a Suffolk II football opener.

The electric Melhado passed for 145 yards and ran for 113 as West Babylon amassed more than 400 total yards. His 10-yard run behind a big block from Luke Baranek opened the scoring. Justin Fitzpatrick added the conversion kick. The run punctuated a four-play, 71-yard drive with 8:58 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.

"Oh, he's special, a real great find for us," West Babylon coach Al Ritacco said. "We brought him to the varsity last year as a defensive back. He's a threat to score on the run and he throws the ball very well."

After Matt Ballone recovered the first of six North Babylon fumbles, Melhado rifled a short pass to a slanting Michael Richardson, who turned the short route into a 41-yard touchdown romp for a score. Fitzpatrick added the kick for a 14-0 lead.

On the next play from scrimmage, Gary Green recovered a fumble deep in North Babylon territory. Fitzpatrick added a 37-yard field goal for a 17-0 lead.

"We forced some fumbles and set up the offense," Ritacco said.

The teams scored twice apiece in the second quarter. North Babylon quarterback Ryan Slane scored on a 2-yard run and again with 40 seconds left in the second quarter on a beautiful 40-yard run to make it 30-14 at the half.

Slane's two touchdowns got North Babylon close but it wasn't enough as Melhado continued his assault on the Bulldogs' defense. He also had a 56-yard scoring strike to Richardson in the second quarter.

"We didn't do a very good job of containing the quarterback," Ritacco said. "We made some key adjustments at the half."

The 4 p.m. start with the temperature at 83 degrees caused many players discomfort; Richardson left the game midway through the second quarter with leg cramps. Trainers were busy keeping players hydrated.

"We struggled with the heat," Ritacco said. "It was hot out there."

No one was hotter than Melhado.

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