Magnet sloppy in opening loss to JFK, 25-8

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Santonyo Bangali knows a little something about John F. Kennedy’s football tradition.

He was a senior on the 1994 undefeated city championship team, which started a remarkable 35-1 run over the next two years.

On Saturday Bangali won his first game in his head coaching debut as the Knights, who hadn’t won a game since capturing the 2000 city championship — the team’s fifth city title in six appearances — defeated host Campus Magnet, 25-8.

“It’s a small but first step to getting the program where it used to be,” said Bangali, who credits his support staff, including assistant Tyrone Murray, who was a defensive coordinator under former coach Jerry Horowitz.

But Kennedy’s first win did not come without a lot of help from Campus Magnet.

The Bulldogs had a poor week of practice and it showed on the field. They turned the ball over six times, including three fumbles which led to Kennedy’s first three touchdowns.

“That’s the name of the game, lack of discipline,” said Magnet coach Jimmy Ryan. “We coached them the best that we could coach them, but we had a lot of guys who were unfocused.”

“The score should have been 8-6,” added senior Courtney Jones, who played both sides of the ball, punted and returned kickoffs. “We have a lot of people in new positions. It’s difficult to hold onto the ball. We weren’t ready for this, but we’ll be back.”

The first play from scrimmage was an ominous sign for Magnet (0-1), as senior quarterback Eugene Liddy, one of several players in a new position this year, fumbled the snap and Kennedy’s Brandon Gonzalez picked up the ball for the first of two fumble recoveries to give Knights possession at the Magnet 20.

An illegal procedure call gave JFK (1-0) a first down at the Magnet 15 and three plays later Stephen Green scored the first of two touchdowns on the afternoon. Omar Sillah booted the extra point and JFK led 7-0 with 9:44 left in the first quarter.

JFK drove 74 yards down the field and appeared ready to score a second touchdown, but they were stopped by a nice goal line stand by the Magnet defense.

The Bulldogs took over on their 1, but coughed the ball up again on their own 13. Green needed just one play to score a five-yard touchdown to put the Knights ahead, 13-0, with 11:00 left in the first half.

Two plays into their next drive, Campus Magnet again fumbled and Kennedy went ahead 19-0 five plays later on Jason Reid’s 13-yard sweep with 5:08 left in the half.

“Our defense is good, it’s what we practice every day,” said Kennedy senior linemen Ramon Richardson, who had a fumble recovery. “We deserved this.”

Campus Magnet avoided the home shutout when Justin Mitchell scored from 1-yard out and Jones ran in the two-point conversion to cut the Bulldogs deficit to 19-8 with 7:48 left in the fourth quarter.

Jones, who ran for over 1,000 yards last year, was held to just 60 yards, including 37 yards on 10 carries.

“[Jones] is a magnificent player,” Bangali said. “He’s a special player and the speed that that team has is incredible.”

Campus Magnet heads to Far Rockaway (2-0, 1-0 Queens) to play a SeaHorses team coming off a 14-8 win over Madison.

But the first step is Tuesday’s practice.

“We didn’t block, we didn’t tackle. We were just sloppy,” Jones said. “What we do in practice shows in the game.”

“We would have had the game, it was all turnovers,” added Liddy. “We’ve got to practice harder, we have seven more games.”

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

Posted 7:23 pm, October 10, 2011
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