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Bayside shows scrap in 26-19 loss to Tottenville

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Despite a Herculean effort by Bayside High School quarterback Zanu Simpson, the Commodores’ varsity football team dropped a heartbreaker to the Tottenville Pirates, 26-19, Saturday afternoon at Jamaica High School.

Bayside (2-3 overall, 2-2 PSAL) hung tough with Tottenville early and kept things interesting until the final minute, but the visiting Staten Island club overcame some mistakes of its own to hold on to the win.

“This was a game we had to win,” said Tottenville coach James Munson. “We know Bayside is going to go out and win some football games. They’re a quality football team.”

Down 13 with 1:52 remaining, following a 29-yard touchdown pass from Pirates quarterback Louis Curcio to running back Rob Castro, Bayside got the ball back at its own 25 and quickly marched downfield to make a game of it late.

Two passes from Simpson to sophomore Jarrett Perry, netting 48 yards, sandwiched a 17-yard run by Drew Williams to bring the ball to the 10-yard line with just under a minute to play. Williams (128 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns) scored for the second time of the day on the next play, going 10 yards for six. The two-point pass failed, but Bayside still was within striking distance, 26-19, if they could convert on the onside kick.

Tottenville, however, played the kick perfectly, as wider receiver Elliot Vasquez came down with the ball, enabling the Pirates to sit on the ball to end the game.

“My team played hard,” said Simpson, who was 8-for-16, passing for 108 yards and running for 91 yards on eight carries, including one touchdown. “We had a couple of missed coverages, but I can’t point fingers. We all gave it all. Next game we just got to be better.”

Simpson, who played every down of the game, on offense, defense and special team, looked like he was ready to fall over from fatigue in the fourth quarter if the wind blew hard enough. It was late in the game and the quarterbac­k/safety/p­unter paused for a moment after receiving a long snap on a punt and visibly took a deep breath before booting the ball downfield.

It was not a great kick, but it was all Simpson could muster at that moment. Simpson downplayed his playing “iron-man” football.

“I have energy to play both ways,” he said. “I’m a two-sport player. I play basketball and football so I’m able to run up and down the court. Also, I’m playing four quarters in football, playing both sides of the ball. Really, it’s not a big deal”

Simpson willed his team to a third-quarter score that made the game, 14-13, in favor of Tottenville. The drive featured a terrific run on third-and-eight by Simpson when the senior signal-caller was met by three Tottenville defenders at the first down marker and carried them two extra yards to ensure the first down. He followed that with a 14-yard pass to Unique Stowe Youman. Three plays later Simpson took it in by himself from one yard out.

Bashkim Blaku’s extra point was blocked, preventing Bayside from tying the game with 4:41 remaining in the third.

Tottenville (3-2 overall, 3-1 PSAL) extended its lead two drives later, using the running of Jonathan Pitt-Combs (13 carries, 69 yards) to set up the pass. After seven straight runs, Curcio found Castro for the touchdown on third-and-goal from the seven. The extra point was wide right, making the score 20-13.

Bayside then lost six yards on three plays, forcing the visibly tired Simpson to punt from inside his own 10, a kick that traveled only to the Commodores’ 28.

Another run by Pitt-Combs followed by another pass from Curcio to Castro made the score 26-13 with 1:52 remaining.

“We could have lost this game,” Munson said. “We’re up 26-13 with under two minutes to go in the game and the game comes down to an onside kick. We just let them back in the game.”

Bayside opened the scoring of the game in the first quarter — following a Tottenville touchdown called back on a holding penalty — marching 90 yards in seven plays. After a pass interference call on third-and-15 kept the drive alive, Williams broke through the Pirates’ defense, rambling 68 yards for the score, and Stowe Youman kicked the extra point to make the score 7-0.

Tottenville got on the board on the first play of the second quarter when Williams was stripped of the ball in the backfield by Keith Oquendo. Nick Liverani picked it up and ran 45 yards for the score. The two-point try failed and Bayside led, 7-6.

Neither team scored until the final minute of the first half when Tottenville, again working off a Bayside turnover, marched 81 yards in 12 plays, culminating with a 26-yard pass for Curcio to Daniel D’albero for the score with only 0:15 remaining on the clock. Pitt-Combs ran in the two-point conversion to make the score 14-0.

“You can’t give them any kind of momentum and we did that a couple of times,” said Bayside coach Joe Capuana. “It always comes down to one or two things that determine a game. Today it was the fumble they returned for a touchdown. Turnovers hurt us a lot in the first half.

“We got a lot of young guys and they are learning on the field,” the coach added. “That’s the hard part. Sooner or later we’ll get over the hump.”

Bayside will travel to Beach Channel (2-2 PSAL) Sunday, at 11 a.m. Beach Channel is coming off a 20-11 loss to Kennedy.

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

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