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Commodores feel Bulldogs’ bite but win, 12-6

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

The Bayside High School varsity football team stormed out to a 12-0 halftime lead over Queens rivals Campus Magnet Saturday at Jamaica High School, but needed to hold on for dear life in the second half, as the Bulldogs nearly snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat.

In the end, however, Bayside made just enough plays — and got one key penalty — to hold on for a 12-6 win.

“They stepped up in the second half,” said Bayside freshman running back Unique Stowe Youman of Campus Magnet. “When halftime came, everybody got happy and started talking to their friends, thinking the game was over. But the game wasn’t over. They came out in the second half and they were ready to play. They thought the game was still zip-zip and they brought it to us.”

The Bulldogs (4-3), who ran only six offensive plays through two drives before falling behind by two touchdowns, got the momentum on their side early in the third quarter. After Bayside went three-and-out, Carlos Cadet blocked the ensuing punt, giving the ball to Magnet at the Bayside 5-yard line.

On second-and-goal from the eight, quarterback Eugene Liddie found wide receiver Vaughn Davis (four catches, 86 yards, one touchdown) in the end zone for six with 7:46 to go in the period. The extra point was wide right, making the score 12-6.

“They gave me like a 10-yard cushion,” Davis said of the Bayside secondary. “They didn’t want to stick tight on me so I just gave it to them. The quarterback threw it up to me and I was there to catch it. I got open on almost every play. It was a good game, but we should have won.”

The Commodores (5-2) stalled again on their next drive and a five-yard punt gave Magnet the ball on the Bayside 39. On third-and-8, Liddie again found Davis, who pulled in a batted ball near the 15 and ran untouched into the end zone for what appeared to be the tying score. But a holding penalty on Magnet in the backfield brought the play back.

The Bulldogs punted two plays later and never threatened to score again.

“I’ll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day,” said Bayside quarterback Zanu Simpson. “We weren’t focused. We got to learn to come together as a team. Not just one man wins a football game. It takes every man from the O-line to the skill positions.”

Simpson may not have won the game himself, but a little individual effort by the senior quarterback may well have preserved the victory.

On Bayside’s next possession and facing a fourth-and-1 at the Commodores’ 47, coach Joe Capuana called a quarterback keeper and Simpson came through big time, going right up the middle for a 38-yard gain.

“I just did my magic,” said Simpson, who led Bayside in rushing with 65 yards on 10 carries. “I had to come up big because I’m a big-time player. I had to step up.”

Bayside eventually got down to the 1-yard line, but failed to put the ball into the end zone on four straight plays, keeping Magnet in the game midway through the fourth quarter.

But the Bulldogs never got past the Bayside 45 before turning the ball over on downs in the final minutes.

“I got to give them credit,” Capuana said of Magnet. “We didn’t get it in. They’re a good team, there’s no question about it. I was very concerned coming into this game about their speed on defense and it caused us some problems.

“Today they played exceptional,” the coach added. “They didn’t quit. We learned a little bit today. The game is played for four quarters. Not every game is going to be always your way. You have to be resilient and I think we were.”

Bayside got on the board in the first quarter, capping the team’s first drive of 47 yards with a nine-yard run by Youman (13 carries, 50 yards, one touchdown) with 5:40 remaining. The two-point try failed, but Bayside seemed able to move the ball at will against the normally stingy Magnet defense.

Two drives later Bayside again capitalized on good field position, marching just 35 yards after a short punt to set up a 1-yard run by running back Drew Williams (13 carries, 40 yards, one touchdown).

Bayside will host Queens rivals August Martin at Jamaica High School Sunday at 1 p.m. Martin (0-7) has yet to win again, but Capuana and his team are not about to take any team for granted.

“It’s always going to be a tough, tough game,” the coach said.

“This is near the end of the season,” Simpson said. “We got to start getting ready for the playoffs. This is a good team, but we’re the best team out here, now we’re supposed to be No. 1 in Queens. Now I’m just trying to take my team to the championship, cause right now it’s up for grabs.”

The Bulldogs face a must-win game against Beach Channel (3-4) when they host the Dolphins Sunday at 11 a.m.

“It’s like last year,” said senior running back Courtney Jones. “Last year was a must-win game. Beach Channel, we got to win that game. I want to win. It’s my senior year and I want to go back to the playoffs.”

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

Updated 7:25 pm, October 10, 2011
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