By Joseph Staszewski
Tyrell Plaza refused to let his career end without a fight.
The Bayside senior running back scored twice after halftime, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a poor first half and an explosive Franklin D. Roosevelt offense. The fourth-seeded Commodores fell for the third straight year in the PSAL Bowl Conference semifinals thanks to a 32-20 loss to No. 2 FDR last Saturday at Midwood Athletic Complex. Bayside, which trailed 18-6 at the break, twice got with in a score.
“We knew we still had to do our jobs in the second half,” Plaza said. “As soon as we came out we knew that we can’t give up because the outcome could be different in the second half.”
His team got within 26-20 after Charles Flug threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Plaza with six minutes left in the game. Bayside (8-3) had a chance to halt the ensuing Cougars’ drive on a fourth-and-1 from their 46-yard line. Instead, Tristin Thomas took the play up the middle and all the way to the end zone for a game-sealing score. Commodores coach Jason Levitt said a missed assignment led to the big play.
“He scored right where we were supposed to be,” Levitt said. “It’s high school kids. They make mistakes. That is going to be tough for me to swallow that somebody went into the wrong spot.”
Bayside wouldn’t have been in position to win without Plaza and Flug. The Commodores were already short-handed with seven starters out for the playoffs because they didn’t meet the school’s standards to stay eligible for athletics.
Plaza used a second and third effort to get in the end zone from five yards out to pull Bayside within 18-12 late in the third quarter. The drive was set up by a fumble recovery by Elijah Rimpel.
FDR (10-2) answered with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Kaseem Morrison to Monrico Cummings early in the fourth quarter. Flug’s two-yard touchdown toss to Plaza made it 26-20, but that was as close as Bayside got.
Thomas carried the ball 16 times for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Morrison rushed for 67 yards and a score on eight carries and also threw two touchdown passes to Cummings. Flug completed 14 of 22 passes for 128 yards. Freshman Robert Williams threw a 29-yard touchdown to Jason Benton on a reverse in the first quarter, but special teams mistakes hurt Bayside.
“We gave short fields three times,” Levitt said. “They scored three times.”
The season again ended too early in Bayside’s mind, but playing as well as it did shorthanded has them leaving with their heads held high and optimistic for the future.
“It shows we still have potential on this team,” Plaza said. “All they have to do is work hard.”