Turnovers on offense and a relentless North Babylon running attack led to a 26-0 loss for East football Saturday afternoon at Nicholas Schroeder Field.
North Babylon running back T.Q. Grant rushed for 147 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs, who combined for 336 yards rushing in the game and improved to 1-1 in Division II. East fell to 0-2.
The Bulldogs led 13-0 at halftime, and after taking the opening kickoff of the third quarter, marched 55 yards in 11 plays. Connor Slane (49 yards on 11 carries) scored from a yard out to give the Bulldogs a commanding 19-0 lead.
East coach Pete Melore said that third touchdown was tough to overcome. “Between [bad] field position and our own offensive mistakes, we put a little too much pressure on the defense,” Melore said. “Considering the mistakes we made offensively, to hold them to 26 was not that bad. Offensively, we didn’t have a good enough day.”
East crossed midfield on each of its first three drives of the game, but each time, a miscue thwarted the progress.
East quarterback Mike Buono completed a 13-yard pass to Mike Conlon to put the Bulls in Bulldog territory, but a fumble off a snap led to fourth and long and a Bulls punt. On the next play from scrimmage, Grant took a reverse around the right end for a 69-yard score and a 7-0 lead for North Babylon.
On East’s next possession, long runs by Eric Binder (28 yards rushing) and Jake Koppelman (81 yards on 17 carries, plus 30 yards receiving) helped push the Bulls to the Bulldogs 16 yard-line, but a fumble in the backfield was recovered by North Babylon. The Bulldogs then went on a 14-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 12-yard run by Grant, making it 13-0.
Again, East marched into Bulldog territory — powered by 42 yards on the ground by Koppelman — but Eric Marzocca intercepted Buono over the middle inside the Bulldogs 10.
“All three times, we didn’t handle the ball,” Melore said. “I thought we blocked pretty well, we were running pretty well, but we made three key mistakes that killed all three drives. In my opinion, they didn’t stop us on those drives, we stopped ourselves.”
The Bulldogs capped the scoring in the fourth quarter. After taking over on downs at the Bulls 31, Grant scored on the next play from scrimmage for his third touchdown of the game.
Despite the final score, Melore was proud of how hard his team fought, especially the defense. “Defensively, we played physical and kept playing,” he said. “For this program a step in the right direction was that we never stopped playing."
The Bulls played the game without starting offensive lineman and defensive end Connor Winship, who suffered a bone bruise in the season opener. He is questionable for the Bulls’ next game at Newfield. The Bulls host Deer Park, another strong team, the following week.
“We’re in the meat of it right now,” Melore said. “This is the tough part.”