Knights defense holds the line in home opener
By Raphael Sugarman
Most coaches would balk if told their only chance of winning a football game was if their team pulled off a fake punt from midfield, ran another punt back for a 60-yard touchdown and executed a goal-line stand with less than a minute left in the game.
That is precisely what the John F. Kennedy Knights did in their season opener on Sept. 14, to edge Brooklyn Tech 14-13.
“I’m really proud of them,” said Kennedy’s ebullient coach Andy Lancberg. “If you grind it out, sometimes good things will happen.”
The Knights entered the game with the memory of their heartbreaking 14-12 loss at New Dorp last week, as they failed to make a two-point conversion late in the game.
Despite being pumped up in front of the rather lofty crowd, it was Brooklyn Tech and not Kennedy that scored the only touchdown of the first half, as Brandon Schneider punched it in from short yardage.
Schneider scored both of the Engineers’ touchdowns, despite the fact that he only ran for a total of four yards.
In the second half, Kennedy caught the Engineers sleeping when they faked a punt and Demetrius Wade carried the ball down to the two, where Mathew Evora carried it over the goal line.
“The defense wasn’t expecting it and they overloaded the line,” said Wade, evaluating the success of the fake.
Lancberg said that special teams is key to a team’s success. “I usually devote a major part of time to specials,” he said. “It’s one-third of the game.”
A two-point conversion gave the Knights a 8-6 lead at the half.
But it was the Engineers who scored the only touchdown of the third quarter. This time, however, their extra point kick was flat. Brooklyn Tech led 14-13 going into the final quarter.
Neither offense looked like a juggernaut during this game. Kennedy quarterback Anthony Cruz was a respectable 7 of 12 for 71 yards and the Knights mounted about another 100 yards on the ground.
Yet it wasn’t until Evora picked up a punted ball on his own 40 yard line and ran it back all the way into the Engineers’ end zone that the crowd and Kennedy bench really came alive.