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Bayside bests Beach Channel, 22-8

It was anything but a pretty win. The Bayside offense sputtered all day long and the team’s vaunted defense couldn’t seem to stop a simple quarterback sneak, but the Commodores still found a way to win.

Coach Joe Capuana’s club mixed an improving passing game and a sporadic ground attack to defeat the Beach Channel Dolphins, 22-8, Saturday at the Bayside High School Athletic Field to keep the team’s playoff hopes alive.

“Every win is a big win,” Capuana said. “They’re a good defensive team. They’re stronger than I thought.

“We got to win these four games if we want to get back into the playoffs,” the coach added. referring to the team’s 0-4 start. “This was the third one and now we’re that much closer. After four games a lot of teams would pack it in.”

Beach Channel (5-2) had opened the season 4-0 before running into August Martin — the team Bayside will have to beat next week to ensure a spot in the post-season. Beach Channel bounced back last week with a decisive win over Long Island City. Capuana was expecting a tough game, but did not expect the Dolphins to hang around as long as they did.

The Commodores’ first possession came after Anthony Harris recovered Benjamin Nieves’ fumbled snap on the Dolphins’ 49, but the Commodores could not capitalize , turning the ball over on downs four plays later.

But after a punt pinned Bayside inside its 30, the Commodores went to work. Junior quarterback Zanu Simpson hit Rafael Sanchez for 18 yards on third-and-7 and then connected with Derek Van Brackle for eight and Quentin Page for 20, putting the ball on the Beach Channel 23.

Fullback David Coleman, who had four yards on his first four carries, then broke one to the outside for 18 years to the Dolphins’ 5-yard line. Three plays later Richie Richards scored on a two-yard blast up the gut for the game’s first score. Coleman ran in the two-point conversion to make the score 8-0 with 23 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

The Dolphins tried to answer back, driving from their 22 all the way to the Bayside 5 yard-line on a 14-play drive which featured Nieves carrying the ball 10 times for 60 yards. But Nieves was hauled down at the five-yard line on fourth-and-7, giving the ball back to Bayside.

With 95 yards between the line-of-scrimmage and the end zone, the Commodores’ offense went back to work. Big runs by Drew Williams, Coleman and Andre Lewis moved Bayside to the Beach Channel 40. The drive seemed to stall when three straight run produced only two yards, leaving Bayside with fourth-and-8 on the 38.

Capuana went for it and Simpson found Williams on a short screen pass that the running back turned into a touchdown with some nifty moves and a well-timed block by Lewis, which sprung him into the open field. The two-point conversion failed, but Bayside was up 14-0 with only 1:39 remaining in the half.

After Bayside first possession of the second produced nothing, Beach Channel needed just one play to make a game of it. Devon Jamison hit a streaking Nieves down the right sideline on first-and-10 from the Dolphins’ 42 for a 58-yard touchdown. Jamison ran in the two-point conversion, making the score 14-8 with 6:38 remaining in the third quarter.

Bayside’s next drive stalled at midfield and the team’s punt sailed inside the Beach Channel 20 and bounced high into the air when, inexplicably, Nieves reach up and batted the ball. Richards recovered for Bayside at the 15, setting up the team’s final score, a one-yard dive by Williams five plays later.

Simpson took the two-point conversion in himself, giving Bayside a 22-8 lead with 9:01 remaining in the fourth.

Beach Channel never threatened again and Bayside, despite having first-and-goal at the four with plenty of time remaining, emptied its bench instead of running up the score. In turn, Beach Channel sat on the ball in the final minute.

With its third straight win, Bayside improves to 3-4 going into the final week.

“I was very concerned,” Capuana said after starting the season 0-4. “But I think they’re a strong unit. They’re a strong, together group of players. We were faced with a lot of adversity. And when they got that first win [they realized] we can win. Things are starting to fall our way a little bit.

“The way we’re playing is what counts,” he added. “We have to win. I really don’t want to talk about playoffs until we’re there.”

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

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