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SLOW START, PAINFUL FINISH

For one fleeting moment, it looked like Christ the King might get all the way back.
On a potential game-tying two-point conversion with 55.6 seconds remaining, Royals quarterback Joe Nuss floated the ball into the back of the end zone for his tight end, Tariq Black. For a split second, it seemed like the pass would force overtime.
It wasn’t perfect, slightly behind Black. He reached back with his right hand, but couldn’t get his left hand there. The ball slipped away, before Black could bring it into his body, dropping to the ground.
“I thought we were going to tie the score,” Nuss said. “But when I looked up the ball was on the floor.”
With it, went the game. Bishop Ford ran out the clock, finalizing a 16-14 victory that sent several Royals to tears, most notably Black. “There’s nothing you can say about that,” wide receiver Danny Manetta said. “It’s a hard catch. It is his first year of playing. Maybe the pressure got to him.”
After a lackadaisical week of practice in which they looked past the Bishop Ford Falcons, who play in the CHSFL ‘A’, the league’s lowest level, that they were even in position to force overtime was surprising.
For most of the rainy and overcast afternoon, Christ the King did not show up. They were blown off the ball, knocked backwards, punished by the physical Falcons.
As rain showers pelted Aviator Field in Brooklyn, the Falcons were abusing the Royals, jumping ahead on a Dendy Willis three-yard touchdown run and his option pass to Denzel Stoby from 12 yards out. “You can’t let a team get up 16 points,” CK Coach Kevin Kelly said. “The second half was too late.”
“They just came out hungry in the first half,” Manetta added.
When the precipitation finally eased up and the sun slipped out of the clouds, CK not only woke up, but furiously came storming back.
They scored a pair of second half touchdowns, starting with running back Dave Lopez’s 14-yard run to pay dirt, which he set up with a 43-yard sprint. The Royals followed with a nine-play, 59-yard drive. Nuss capped it by hitting Manetta on a seven-yard scoring strike on 4th-and-goal with less than a minute remaining.
“We do that from the beginning,” Manetta regrettably admitted, “we blow this team out.”
Unfortunately, they did not. It all came down to the fateful two-point conversation attempt. It should not have, CK said afterward. “That stuff can’t happen,” Kelly fumed. “We just came out flat.”
Winless at 0-3 and coming off last year’s demoralizing one-win season, the start was a surprise to many Royals, as was the week of practice preceding it. They lost to Bishop Ford, 6-0, last year in the first place. There was no reason to look past the Falcons.
“It was terrible,” Nuss said of the team’s recent practices. “Everybody was just joking around. I really thought we were going to win, we were going to kill this team.”
It won’t get any easier. The Royals meet undefeated St. Francis Prep (3-0) Friday night at St. John’s University. No doubt, they will not look past the Terriers. “This is a wakeup call that we got to stop messing around and get everything together,” Nuss said.
“We’re going to have a tough week of practice, that’s for sure,” Manetta promised. “We are going to be ready.”

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