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Campus Magnet left little to chance this week.
Eight days after blowing a three-touchdown lead in a demoralizing home loss to Erasmus Hall, the Bulldogs showed no mercy.
They scored on four of five possessions. They converted four fourth downs, three of them five yards or longer, and blitzed from start to finish, including a game-ending, goal-line stand in a commanding 26-0 victory at Grand Street Campus in Brooklyn Saturday afternoon.
“Today,” defensive end/offensive tackle Nmesoma Okafor said, “we played until we won.”
Tykeith Fantroy rushed for two touchdowns, one in each half, and Wavell Wint and Kareem Turnage also scored on the ground as Magnet bullied Grand Street at the line of scrimmage. Coach Eric Barnett singled out the play of his swarming defense, which registered its second shutout in three weeks.
Leading the charge was Okafor, an imposing two-way lineman who has grown up on the field as much as off of it in the last year. Known as a class clown before this past summer, he has turned into the unit’s unquestioned leader and raised his grades in the classroom.
Barnett has him address his teammates after practices and before games. Upset over the loss to Erasmus, he called out his teammates — including close friend and linebacker/tight end David Sumter — during practice. He even called himself out one day, asking if he could run laps after a missed assignment. On Saturday, before the game, he predicted a shutout, then went out and wreaked havoc on the Wolves (2-2), virtually living in the backfield.
“He sets the tone for us,” Barnett said. “He’s a better leader than anyone I had last year.”
Okafor didn’t like talking about the setback to Erasmus, saying the win showed it was time to move forward. But it was on the Bulldogs’ minds. Barnett said he had trouble breathing he was thinking so much about the missed opportunity.
“I couldn’t get the taste out of my mouth,” he said.
Magnet’s desperation was evident in its efficiency.
The first time the Bulldogs (3-1) got the ball, they went 60 yards in six plays, capped by Wint’s 21-yard touchdown run. A similar scenario followed in the second quarter, this time four plays and 40 yards. Fantroy put an exclamation point on that drive, bruising his way 20 yards to pay dirt.
Will Bradley, who was torched for two touchdowns against Erasmus, started the second half with a 40-yard kickoff return. On 4th-and-1 from the Magnet 49-yard line, Fantroy went 30 yards up the gut and followed that with a one-yard dash for his second score. On the Bulldogs’ final scoring drive, Barnett rolled the dice twice on fourth down. First, quarterback Scott Gadsden scrambled for nine yards on 4th-and-5, and later hit Jarrell Thomas for 27 yards on 4th-and-15. Turnage, the sophomore fullback, scored from a yard out.
Magnet allowed Grand Street to go on two drives, one to end the first half and another as the clock wound down in the fourth quarter. Safety Anthony Diggs picked off Wolves quarterback Cristian Pena to quell the first uprising, and the Bulldogs, aided by the bench’s chants of “defense,” held strong to complete the shutout on the later one.
“This is how we play — zipping teams,” Okafor said.
The victory doesn’t completely wash away the loss to Erasmus. That was a statement game for a program, despite consecutive playoff seasons, still in search of respect. Another opportunity comes next weekend, against 2-2 Canarsie, an established power coming off a 36-14 bludgeoning of Boys & Girls.
“We’ll really know about our team,” Barnett said, “after Canarsie.”
Reach Zach Braziller at email@example.com.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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