By Laura Amato
The Bayside football team built their early-season on the ability to get outside and run, but on Saturday afternoon, the squad failed to execute that game plan, falling 22-6 to McKee/Staten Island Tech.
“Something about McKee is they play in like a phone booth,” said Bayside coach Jason Levitt. “Everything is tight and it’s very hard to move so when they get up on you, it’s hard to recover. They did a good job on us.”
Bayside (6-1) got off to a rough start as the Seagulls (6-1) controlled the tempo from the opening whistle, marching down the field on a 10-minute drive. The Commodores’ defense held strong, however, forcing a turnover on downs at the 12-yard line and then converting their own fourth down to keep the drive alive.
The momentum seemed to have swung decidedly in Bayside’s favor two plays later when Tequan Evans found Robert Williams for an 80-yard touchdown pass. The play was called back on an illegal block in the back—far beyond the line of scrimmage—and the wind was effectively ripped out of the Commodores’ sails.
“We came in with so much energy and it’s so hard to explain what happened,” said junior running back Jonathan Cato.
McKee broke the scoring stalemate in the final minutes of the second quarter—a run by Trance Ravenell from less than a yard out—taking advantage of a short field after an even shorter Bayside punt.
“We know who we are and we know what we do and we want to run at everyone,” said McKee’s acting coach Chris Rogers. “There’s no secret to what we’re trying to do, we’re just going to pound teams.”
Still, the Commodores refused to lose focus and Bayside came into the second half with a renewed energy and determination to get the ground game going. Cato answered the call with just under nine minutes left in the third quarter, getting Bayside on the board with a one-yard touchdown run.
“As soon as I got into the end zone, I just knew it was time for us to start turning things up,” Cato said. “We wanted to start going and get running and do what Bayside does best.”
Once again, however, McKee’s ground game responded in kind and the Seagulls answered with an eight-play, 44-yard touchdown drive on their ensuing possession, capped off by Nicolas Macri’s eight-yard touchdown, pushing the ball forward and breaking through the Bayside defensive line. In the end, McKee’s multi-pronged rushing attack was the difference, controlling the clock and slowly but surely eating up yardage.
Bayside didn’t help its own cause down the stretch—fumbling the ball late in the third and failing to convert a fake punt midway through the fourth quarter. Still, the Commodores refused to hang their heads walking off the field. After all, there’s another game next week—against reigning Bowl champions Truman—and another chance to get the ground game moving again. Now, the squad just has a bit of extra motivation.
“We can turn this into a positive,” Levitt said. “This feeling sucks though and losing, sometimes, can be a good thing just so you don’t repeat that feeling.”