Campus Magnet accomplished all they set out to attain in the first three quarters of their opening-round playoff game.
The 14th-seeded Bulldogs shut down No. 3 Canarsie’s leading rusher, Brandon Jones. They surprisingly controlled the line of scrimmage, were even in the turnover battle and moved the ball consistently, keeping it away from the high-powered Chiefs.
“We had them confused,” Campus Coach Eric Barnett said. “They didn’t know what we were doing.”
They weren’t befuddled forever. Canarsie scored a lightning-quick 24 points in a dizzying 4:41 span of the fourth quarter, sending the Bulldogs home, 24-12, last Saturday in Brooklyn when an upset seemed so possible at one point.
“We just lost it,” quarterback Datalia Holness somberly whispered, shaking his head in disbelief.
There was reason for bewilderment. When Holness scored from two yards out with six seconds remaining in the third quarter, the lead was 12-0.
Of course, the game was far from over. With a dynamic offense that can strike at any moment, the Chiefs have mastered the fourth-quarter comeback. Three times - make it four - this fall the Brooklyn school has rallied late, including wins over city powers Port Richmond, Clinton and Sheepshead Bay.
It started innocently enough, when Pratt connected with Robert Hill on a middle screen that went 46 yards on 3rd and 10. Two plays later, Pratt hit Deandre Hall in the back of the end zone from 18 yards out. Campus Magnet went three-and-out and the Chiefs quickly struck again when Steven Rene, Jones’ sophomore understudy, took a draw play 37 yards to the house.
“At that point of the game,” Barnett thought back, “it was who wanted it [more].”
Reeling by this point, Campus could not move the ball; James Jones was stopped on 4th and 1 from their own 38-yard line. On the next play, Pratt hit Julius Brown on a go-route for yet another backbreaking score.
“Some of us,” wide receiver/linebacker Jason Weston admitted, “lost focus.”
From the get-go, the Bulldogs called themselves the borough’s best, a fact proved upon with their 7-2 regular season record, which included five victories over Queens opposition. It still was not the end goal. Campus was in search of a program-defining playoff victory over a reputable opponent. The 8-1 Chiefs were that.
“I’m hurt extremely,” Barnett said. “I felt we let Queens down. We should’ve won this game.”
The other Queens team to make the 16-team city playoffs, August Martin didn’t fare much better than Campus Magnet. The Falcons, seeded 15th, were routed by No. 2 Port Richmond on Staten Island, 50-21. Mustafa Young and Murphy White each ran for a touchdown.