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Queens football teams drop championship games

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Far Rockaway’s Civy Merritt recovers fumble during the PSAL Cup Division Championship game between Far Rockaway and Franklin K. Lane at MCU Park, in Brooklyn.
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Bayside’s Rashad Wilson looks to advance ball during the PSAL Bowl Division Championship at MCU Park in Brooklyn.
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Hanalka Graham (1) scrambles to avoid Franklin K. Lane defenders.
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Bayside quarterback Tequan Evans scrambles to pick up some yards on the ground.
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Civy Merritt runs for a first down.
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Bayside’s Codie Fuller defends against a Lehman receiver.
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Chaki Hurdle picks up 74 yards on a catch-and-run.
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Bayside’s Joshua Rodriguez is brought down by a group of Lehman defenders.

Bayside and Far Rockaway were the last two football teams standing in Queens, but both dropped their championship games last weekend in Brooklyn.

Bayside fell to top-ranked Lehman 46-22, while Far Rockaway dropped its contest 28-8.

Bayside runs out of steam in loss to Lehman

In one of the most anticipated rematches of the PSAL football season, injuries and a lack of depth blew the Bayside High School football team off course from their goal to win their first championship title in 29 years.

The Commodores dropped the PSAL Bowl Division Championship game to top-seeded Lehman 46-22 last Saturday.

“We never gave up,” senior quarterback Tequan Evans said. “We had a lot of guys cramp up. Actually that made many of our scout players have to come into the game and make plays.”

Both offenses had difficulty scoring under the bright lights of MCU Park in the early part of the game. The Commodore defense bent but did not break on Lehman’s first offensive series, stopping the Lions at the half-yard line to keep the game scoreless.

Lehman put together their own defensive stand on the following possession, stopping the Commodores on a fourth-and-one to force a turnover on downs.

Each defense continued their strong performances in the opening quarter. Bayside’s defense scored the game’s first points on a safety after Lehman started their series on the one-yard line, preventing the Lions’ Mario Delacruz from running out of his own end zone.

On Bayside’s next possession, Lehman’s defense picked off a fourth down pass attempt, after the Commodores received a delay-of-game penalty on a third-and-one.

The first quarter ended with the Commodores leading 2-0, but their advantage wouldn’t last long.

With 5:04 remaining in the half, Lions’ defense forced Evans to fumble and the ball was scooped up by the Lehman’s Marley Isaac, who ran 45 yards into the end zone, giving the Lions an 8-2 lead.

With 1:40 left in the half, Bayside scored the first offensive points of the game when Evans ran the ball in for a touchdown to tie the score 8-8.

With time running out in the first half, Lehman turned to senior quarterback Danny Sanchez to move the offense down the field. Sanchez responded, capping off the drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Marc Duplessy with 42.8 seconds, giving the Lion’s a 14-8 half-time lead.

Despite a strong first half, penalties and injuries would take its toll on Bayside in the third quarter.

“Did you see the sideline with all those cramps,” Bayside coach Jason Levitt said. “They were obviously very good, but we were playing our third string players.”

Levitt said his team played a majority of the second half with four of its best skill players on the sideline.

Evans, who managed to stay in the game, scored a touchdown midway through the third quarter, but a holding penalty took the points off the scoreboard.

On the next play Evans hit David Loayza on a pass in the end zone, but Loayza could not control the ball when he hit the ground and the pass was ruled incomplete. The Commodores attempted a fake punt on fourth down but could not convert, leading to a turnover on downs.

Lehman pulled away on its next series, taking advantage as Bayside starters became physically fatigued with cramps. With the Bayside bench having to play a more prominent role in the game, Lehman scored 26 consecutive points to open up a 40-8 lead with 9:18 remaining in the game.

Evans, who displayed a positive attitude throughout the game, continued to fight, scoring on a 60-yard run that cut the Lions’ lead to 40-16.

“Today was my last game, and I had a lot of fun,” Evans said, despite the loss. “The season was fun. I enjoyed playing with these guys and coming out here was a good experience,”

Each team would score a touchdown during the final minutes of the game, making the final score 46-22 in favor of Lehman, the defending Bowl champs.

After the game, Levitt evoked a quote from Dr. Seuss to keep his team’s spirits up.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, be happy because it happened,” he said.

Wise words for a group of young men that put Bayside football back on the map and into this year’s championship game.

Far Rock offense disappears against Lane

Six turnovers and penalties disabled the Far Rockaway offense and provided Franklin K. Lane with excellent field position, leading to a 28-8 PSAL Bowl Championship victory for the Knights last Saturday at MCU Park.

“One of the biggest thing that kills drives is penalties and turnovers,” Far Rockaway coach Walter Wilkerson said.

On their opening possession, Lane advanced the ball to the Far Rockaway seven-yard line. But the Seahorse defense forced a fumble, recovered by Far Rockaway’s Richard Lewis.

After the turnover, penalties cost Far Rockaway’s offense, as they could not recover from an intentional grounding penalty that forced them into a third-and-17 dilemma. Lane turned their defense loose, sacking the Far Rock quarterback for an additional six-yard loss, leading to a punt.

After a scoreless first quarter, Lane took advantage of Far Rockaway’s second quarter miscues to take control of the game.

“A lot of the turnovers were key because we put Lane on a very short field,” Wilkerson said. “When you put any team on a short field, it is hard to keep them from scoring. We were successful early in the game, they just wore us down.”

A Far Rockaway fumble by Daron Foxworth on the eight-yard line led to Lane’s first score. Quarterback Shakel Clarke ran over the right side of the line for the touchdown, giving Lane a 6-0 lead.

Far Rock’s miscue continued to give Lane excellent field position. A poor punt on the next possession gave Lane the ball on the Seahorses’ 32-yard line, where Clake continued to make his mark on the game, advancing the ball with an 18-yard scramble on a third down to the Far Rock 11-yard line. Clarke finished the drive with a quarterback sneak from one yard out for a touchdown, giving his team a 12-0 lead with 4:05 remaining in the half.

The Knights’ defense forced its third turnover of the quarter at the 1:47 mark, intercepting Hanalka Graham’s pass on a 4th-and-22. Lane’s offense quickly turned the interception into points on a 60-yard catch by senior wide receiver Omar Rodgers. With 4.8 seconds remaining Clarke hit Rodger’s on a slant for a touchdown, sending the Knights into locker room with a 20-0 halftime lead.

It appeared that penalties would stall another offensive drive for Far Rock in the second half, but the Seahorses were able to move the ball to the five-yard line following a 74-yard pass to senior Chaki Hurdle. The Seahorses used their momentum to finish off the drive with a touchdown run by senior running back Civy Merritt, cutting the Lane lead to 20-8 with 2:45 left to play in the third quarter.

Lane scored the game’s final points with 8:21 remaining in the fourth on a 31-yard run by Clarke.

Although the game did not go their way, Wilkerson was still proud of his team’s effort this season.

“I’m just proud of my boys for getting to this place,” he said. “I love these seniors. They are a great group of guys and we got here because of their success.”

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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