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Adams holds off Springfield Gardens, 20-14

The Springfield Gardens coaches and players were ready, the officials and doctor were set, but there was one thing missing at the start of the second half of Sunday’s game at John Adams High School. The John Adams football team was still in the locker room.

Jerry Weitzen and his staff used the extra time, which resulted in a five-yard delay of game penalty, to continue to stress the importance of cutting down on mental miscues, which — although being the focus at practice all week — hurt the Spartans in the first half.

The result in the second half was a much improved John Adams team, which held off a late Springfield Gardens surge to win, 20-14.

“We make it tougher than it’s suppose to be,” Weitzen said. “In the second half we came out more focused and we were able to run our offense, to run the ball.”

Leading 8-6, running backs Richard Lopez and Tristan Leefoon (119 yards on 12 carries, three touchdowns) rushed for three straight first downs to get to the Springfield 8. Two plays later, Leefoon ran the ball in from the five-yard line to give Adams (4-1 PSAL) a 14-6 lead with 3:27 left in the third quarter.

Springfield Gardens, a team that had just one offensive touchdown coming into the game, went to a seldom-used aerial attack in the fourth quarter, but Brandon Rush’s pass to Wali Reynolds was picked off by Kern Marcelle at the Springfield 30.

The senior safety ran the ball back to five where Leefoon followed Robert Knight into the end zone on the next play to put the Spartans ahead, 20-6, with 1:23 left in the fourth quarter.

“The whole game I wanted an interception but I didn’t think they’d throw it,” Marcelle said. “I tried to take in for a touchdown.”

Springfield Gardens (3-3 PSAL) made things interesting on its next play from scrimmage when Rush nailed Reynolds out of the shotgun for a 57-yard touchdown pass. Rush scored on a keeper on the two-point conversion and the Golden Eagles trailed, 20-14, with 58 seconds left in the game.

Out of timeouts, Springfield Gardens needed a successful onside kick to have a chance. And for a second, it appeared the Golden Eagles had it as Garet Lynch’s end-over-end kick bounced off the shoulder pads of Jonathan Elson.

The ball squibbed loose, but Marcelle, who was burned a play earlier on Reynolds’ touchdown catch, pounced on it to seal the game for John Adams.

“I was just thinking that I wanted to make up for the touchdown,” Marcelle said. “I thought it was coming to me, but then it bounced off [Elson] so I just jumped on it.”

Kyle Piccirello (7-for-18, 97 yards) hit Leefoon for a two-yard touchdown pass and two-point conversion to cap a 22-play, 67-yard drive to put the Spartans, who play Boys and Girls Saturday at 11 a.m., in front, 8-0 with 3:14 left in the second quarter.

“I was surprised because nobody struck on me when I swung out,” Leefoon said. “Usually I have two or three guys on me, but I was surprised no one keyed on me.”

Courtney Williams picked up the ensuing kickoff and ran it back 80 yards for a touchdown. Reynolds’ pass on the two-point conversion was incomplete.

“We stuck in there and made big plays when we had to make big plays,” said Springfield coach Charlie Yarborough, whose club hosts Long Island City Saturday at noon. “We just came up one big play short.”

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by email at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

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