By Brandon Mauk
A good defensive performance is a great way to overcome a struggling offense and that’s exactly how Jamaica picked up its biggest win so far this season.
Jamaica kept high-scoring Bayside out of the end zone in a 12-2 road victory last Friday, a battle between previously unbeaten PSAL Bowl Conference teams. The Beavers needed four takeaways to overcome their own offensive issues, as they only had 95 total yards to Bayside’s 266.
The formula for Jamaica’s terrific start is its versatility. They have their choice of players who can play on either side of the ball, and it showed throughout the game.
“I was impressed,” Jamaica coach Calvin Whitfield said. “We had some breakdowns, but you know Bayside is a tough team to stop. We kept them off the scoreboard. I feel good about that.”
Malik Lawrie connected with Benjamin Obikoya for a touchdown and caught an interception for Jamaica (4-0). Obikoya also recorded six tackles, and Nicholas Sutherland-Brow had two interceptions and was a key run-blocker.
“I work hard and it just pays off,” Lawrie said. “We came out here with a positive mindset and we got the job done.”
The Beavers’ defense immediately set the tone with an interception from Lawrie on the first possession of the game at the Bayside 17-yard line. Jamaica took advantage of the turnover and scored on a 4-yard touchdown by Garfield McDonald to make it 6-0.
Jamaica produced another interception by Sutherland-Brow on Bayside’s next possession. This pick stopped a prime chance for the Commodores to even the score, as Sutherland-Brow created the turnover at the Jamaica 16.
Lawrie completed just one pass in three attempts, but he made that one count. He fired a 13-yard touchdown to Obiyoka to make the score 12-0 in the second quarter.
Bayside (3-1) had to work quickly to get back in the game before halftime. It managed to get the ball to the 1-yard line with 11 seconds left, but Jamaica’s defense proved their toughness again, as it stopped them on fourth and goal to end the half.
The Commodores struggled to regroup in the second half, despite the fact that their own defense didn’t allow much of anything to Jamaica’s offense. Bayside is tinkering with splitting time between quarterbacks Tequan Evans and Shariff Abukari, and they may need to scrap the plan after a tough week.
“Neither of them did well today, so we’re kind of going back and forth,” Bayside coach Jason Levitt said. “Which might be an issue we have to address, to pick one and go with it.”
Jamaica handed Bayside their only points as their punter intentionally ran out of the end zone in order to set up a deeper punt late in the fourth quarter.
“It felt pretty good to be known as an underdog and come out here and do our thing and prove people wrong,” Sutherland-Brow said. “It shows people that we can compete and be the best.”