By Anthony Bosco
The Bayside Commodores started this season losing their first six games with an offense as anemic as any under the tutelage of head coach Joe Capuana.
How quickly things change.
After defeating Springfield Gardens last week to get the monkey off their collective backs, the Commodores came back Sunday with perhaps their best offensive output in three years, dominating South Shore en route to their second win of the year, 36-20.
“We made big play after big play,” Capuana said. “I'm very proud of the team, the coaches. All year long we continued to work hard. After starting 0-6 a lot of people could have walked away.”
Things, however, did not start too well for the Commodores, as South Shore jumped out on top 8-0 when Kareem Thompson scored on a 6-yard run in the first quarter to give the Vikings an 8-0 lead.
South Shore held the lead most of the half but missing a chance to extend it when Vikings' quarterback Patrick Chedda was picked off in the end zone by Andre Lewis.
Bayside responded in the second quarter with a 21-yard field goal by Rupert Rickards after an illegal formation call pushed Bayside back to the 5-yard line on third-and-goal.
The Commodores got the ball back with about two minutes to go in the half and marched 70 yards downfield, capping the quick drive with a 9-yard pass from Jamel Howard to Rickards for the touchdown. Rickards added the extra point to give Bayside a 10-8 lead.
“We didn't do anything differently,” Capuana said of his offensive strategy. “At the start of the season I thought I had five or six play makers and they all made plays [Sunday].”
Bayside extended the lead with its first possession of the second half, capping a 78-yard drive on a 36-yard touchdown pass from Howard to Lewis. The extra point made it 17-8.
The Vikings got some back on their next possession, steadily driving downfield before Thompson broke into his second scoring run of the day, a 30-yard jaunt to pull his team within three, 17-14, after a failed two-point conversion.
But Bayside took the momentum right back with another solid drive and a 21-yard touchdown run by fullback David Coleman, who broke a fourth-and-four play to go the distance. The Commodores moved to a 23-14 lead.
South Shore went three-and-out, setting up Bayside again. The Commodores sailed inside the Vikings' territory when the drive stalled. On fourth-and-seven, Capuana called for a double-cross hand-off, which Lewis broke for a 28-yard touchdown.
South Shore scored again to close the gap to 30-20, but Bayside rounded out the game's scoring with another touchdown run, this one a 57-yarder by C.J. Okogeri in the final two minutes.
“Right now we're clicking on all cylinders,” Capuana said. “That's what I expected early in the season. We're putting it together at the right time.”
All in all it was tremendous offensive day for Bayside, which finished with 393 yards total. Howard was 9-of-16 for 159 yards and two touchdowns, easily his best game behind center. The running game was just as effective, as Okogeri carried six times for 81 yards, Lewis was 5-for-75 and Coleman was 10-for-69.
Bayside, now 2-4 in league play and 2-6 overall, will host Campus Magnet Saturday at 11 a.m. at Bayside Athletic Field and will follow that by hosting August Martin the following week.
“If we win those last two I think we go back to the playoffs,” Capuana said. “But we have to win them. Campus Magnet, they always play you tough. We have to be ready to play. But I do think we're playing our best football right now. The confidence is back.”