By Kyle Gorman
With summer coming to a close, varsity football began Saturday for the Long Island City Bulldogs. The Bulldogs wilted in the heat and, after a grueling three-plus hours of play, fell to the East Harlem Pride 40-32 in the triple-overtime.
East Harlem took an eight-point lead after a touchdown run in the third overtime period, Long Island City marched down the field looking to tie the game. The Bulldogs targeted senior receiver Naseem Henderson on a third-and-10 and he converted the first down, but fumbled the ball away, allowing East Harlem to secure the victory.
Both teams started the game with tons of energy, but by half time, it became apparent that the heat and exhaustion were going to play factors in the outcome of the game.
“It was rough on both teams. There was a lot of cramping going on,” Bulldogs coach Joe Houghton said. “We had to have a couple kids come out because they just couldn’t handle the situation.”
The Bulldogs put themselves in a pickle to start the game by fumbling away the opening kickoff. But the defense buckled down to make a stop and the offense built a 12-0 lead in the second quarter. Henderson made his presence known early, finding a wide-open hole in the defense for a 35-yard touchdown catch.
“He is going to be a terrific player,” Houghton said of Henderson. “He kind of broke out last year and we’re expecting really big things from him this year.”
Henderson continued his big game in the second half. After the Bulldogs surrendered the lead in the third and fell behind 26-24, Henderson came up big. The Bulldogs’ captain caught seven passes for 116 yards in regulation, including a huge 21-yard touchdown to tie the game with just 10 seconds left.
When the game entered overtime, it was clear the players were starting to run out of energy, which led to multiple substitutions from both sides.
“There was one time when we had four starters out. It’s tough to operate like that,” Houghton said. “There are some things we got to clean up. It’s the first game, so there’s always going to be some things we can clean up.”
On defense, Long Island City struggled to stop the run all day. East Harlem senior receiver Sebastian Ramos found room to run on the outside twice, with two jet-sweeps that went for touchdowns, one for 40 yards and one for 64 yards.
Despite the overtime loss, Houghton still has high expectations for his team moving forward.
“We feel like we can play for a championship this year,” he said. “We have the talent to do it, and that’s the goal. That’s where we’re headed.”
Springfield Gardens 14, Frank J. Macchiarola Educational Complex 6: The Golden Eagles scored a touchdown in the first quarter and found the end zone again in the second quarter to take a 14-0 lead into halftime. The Sharks got on the board with six points in the third quarter, but Springfield Gardens thwarted their comeback attempt in the fourth to secure the victory. Christian Judge completed three of his six passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns. The Golden Eagles totaled 116 yards on the ground as they improved to 2-0 on the season.
Franklin K. Lane 48, Cardozo 0: The Judges failed to find the end zone as they dropped their season-opener. Nicholas Germanakos passed for 34 yards, while Christophe Palmer led the team with 22 rushing yards. Cardozo will look to get its first win of the season next week against Mott Haven Educational Campus.
McKee/Staten Island Tech 46, Beach Channel 6: The Dolphins scored six points in the first quarter, but were unable to boost their total for the remainder of the game, falling to the Seagulls. Phoenix Parker completed three passes for 38 yards and tossed an interception.
Eric Pryor rushed nine times for 106 yards and a touchdown in the defeat, which evened the Dolphins record at 1-1.
Alfred E. Smith Campus 48, William C. Bryant 0.