By Laura Amato
This one hurt. The Jamaica football team had plenty of chances to pick up its second win of the season Saturday afternoon, but the Beavers couldn’t put all the pieces together, hampered by late-game miscues en route to a 14-7 loss to Sheepshead Bay.
“We just didn’t get it done,” Jamaica coach Calvin Whitfield said. “We didn’t come to play. It’s a good experience. We have to learn from it and understand that they’ve got to come to every game, every play full speed.”
The Beavers got off to a strong start, moving the ball well as running back Arthur Mccaa ate up yardage with ease. But Jamaica’s first drive of the day ended on a low note as an offensive hold erased a big gain and the squad turned the ball over on downs.
Sheepshead Bay went to work after that.
The Sharks marched down the field in the second quarter, sparked by quarterback Collin Smith Aiken. The senior found the end zone with just over six minutes left in the half, following his blockers for a three-yard strike.
“We realized that we had strong linemen that could push off the line,” Smith Aiken said. “We knew we could get out at them. We came into the second quarter, just amped up and ready to score.”
It was enough to shake Jamaica a bit and the Beavers offense gave the ball right back, fumbling two plays later.
Once again, Sheepshead Bay took advantage of the Beavers’ mistakes and Smith Aiken barreled his way into the end zone for the second time, from one-yard out, to give the Sharks a 14-0 cushion.
“We told them to just get comfortable, play football and have fun,” Sheepshead Bay coach Ubeaka Mckinney said. “All the stuff we went over in practice, let’s just have some fun and put it all together.”
But Jamaica found a spark late in the second quarter, executing a two-minute drill to near perfection. Malik Lawrie capped off the 40-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run as time expired, cutting the lead in half and giving Jamaica a bit of much-needed confidence heading into the break.
That confidence, however, didn’t last long.
Sheepshead Bay switched up its defense and settled into shutdown mode in the second half, consistently pushing into the Jamaica backfield and racking up tackles.
“We took a tough loss last week and we really wanted this one,” Smith Aiken said. “We have a few different defenses and the first one didn’t work, so we switched up and we just kept in that defense.”
But while the Sharks defense did its part, Jamaica didn’t do much to help its own cause.
The Beavers couldn’t take advantage of a blocked punt—giving them the ball on the 10-yard line—in the third quarter, a 31-yard touchdown run was called back on a hold and Lawrie was picked off late in the fourth quarter.
Still, Jamaica had one final chance, getting the ball with 49 seconds left and quickly marching down the field. The Beavers came up short though, unable to even get the ball out of Lawrie’s hands on the final play before time expired and he was forced to run out of bounds.
It’s a difficult loss for Jamaica, but one the squad hopes to learn from. After all, every game brings another chance and the Beavers plan to take advantage of each one.
“I think we just lacked a little focus today,” Whitfield said. “It’s just a lesson learned.”