By Zach Braziller
There was one player Campus Magnet didn’t have an answer for Friday afternoon in its disappointing 38-26 home loss to Erasmus Hall.
It wasn’t Wayne Morgan, the talented sophomore quarterback who scored three touchdowns, two on the ground and one through the air. It wasn’t his backup, Omari Matthews, who tossed two long ones of his own. It wasn’t running back Shaquell Jackson or wide receiver Jonathan Yearwood, both of whom scored once apiece and were instrumental to the Erasmus attack.
That player actually didn’t have a number.
“You see that big guy on their side?” Magnet Coach Eric Barnett asked rhetorically, a slight smile covering up his anguish. “It was momentum.”
Once the Dutchmen got it, the Bulldogs wilted, coughing up an 18-0, second-quarter lead.
Most of it was their own undoing: consecutive turnovers to start the third quarter, defensive breakdowns in the secondary and, most of all, overconfidence.
“Good teams,” Barnett said, “don’t do what we did today. You give balls away like that, you deserve to lose.”
Magnet’s speedy, swarming defense created the early cushion. Tykeith Fantroy drilled Morgan sideways, dislodging the ball. It led to Wavell Wint’s scamper from a yard out. On Erasmus’ next possession, Jackson was stripped, setting up Fantroy’s one-yard touchdown run. The Bulldogs went 60 yards in four plays the next time they had possession, capped by Will Bradley’s 31-yard sprint to paydirt.
“Our team thought the game was over,” defensive end Nmesoma Okafor said.
It obviously wasn’t.
Magnet (2-1) was stymied offensively after Bradley’s touchdown until quarterback Scott Gadsden hit Wint on a nine-yard scoring toss late in the fourth quarter. By then, it was too late. The Bulldogs did nearly get even at 24 with 8:00 remaining, but Morgan stopped Wint dead in his tracks at the 1 on 4th-and-goal.
That, Barnett said, wasn’t where the game was lost. It was in Magnet’s inability to put the game away in the first half, it was in punter Dave Sumter failing to handle a low snap, in Naquan Smith booting a kickoff soon thereafter, in the defensive line, so stout early on, parting like the Red Sea in the final quarter. Okafar said he saw his teammates’ heads drop and shoulders sag as the second half wore on.
“This had nothing to do with X’s and O’s,” Barnett said. “It was a gut check.”
Barnett wouldn’t characterize this as his worst loss in five years at Magnet. After all, two years ago the Bulldogs blew a 26-6 lead over Long Island City with 6:00 remaining. His team bounced back that year by winning three of its last four to make the playoffs. He isn’t sure how this unit can respond.
“We’ll see how they handle failure,” Barnett said.
Reach Zach Braziller at firstname.lastname@example.org.