Shoulda-Coulda-Woulda

Bonackers, are now 2-4
Brandon Johnson (33) had this past Friday another huge game, with 311 all-purpose yards — 156 rushing, 90 receiving, 65 in kickoff returns — and two touchdowns, not to mention 10 tackles. Craig Macnaughton

The East Hampton High School football team continues to be fun to watch, and it also continues to lose.

The latest defeat, though not attributable to hellish refereeing, as was the case at McGann-Mercy in Riverhead, was sustained Friday under the lights at Hampton Bays.

However, as late as four or so minutes into the fourth quarter it looked as if the Bonackers, who are now 2-4 as a result of the 33-20 loss, might well win.

“The kids thought they were going to win too,” Joe McKee, East Hampton’s head coach, who has brought this rebuilding-year team along very well, said during a conversation afterward.

Hampton Bays, thanks to a 40-yard zigzagging ramble into the end zone by the Baymen’s senior quarterback, Travis Flynn, tied the count at 20-20 with a little more than 10 minutes left in the game. It could have taken the lead then, but its kicker Matt Carney’s extra-point attempt bounced off the right upright.

Brandon Johnson, the 6-foot-4-inch senior running back/linebacker, who turned in yet another extraordinary all-around performance, caught the ensuing kickoff, gathered steam quickly, and was finally run out of bounds at the 40 by four tacklers, who were charged with late hits.

That penalty advanced the ball into the home team’s territory, and on the next play it happened again, at the 27. The 15-yard penalty spotted the ball at the 12, and to the Bonac faithful it seemed as if it would be just a matter of moments before their team wrested the lead back.

Jordan Johnson, Brandon’s first cousin and fellow senior running back (who played for the Baymen last fall), rushed to the 5 on first down. The second play went awry, resulting in a sack of the quarterback, Brandon Daige, at the 10.

“A couple of our guys went the wrong way,” McKee said by way of explanation afterward. A subsequent false start by a lineman pushed the ball back even farther, to a third-and-14 at the 15.

Daige then took to the air, lofting the ball into the left corner of the end zone, where Brandon Johnson was soon to arrive. Matt Rinaldi, the Baymen’s 6-3 safety, was headed there too, and, interposing himself between Johnson and the ball, Rinaldi intercepted, after which he zipped up the near sideline, cheered on by the large hometown crowd, to Bonac’s 34.

Six plays later, the Baymen were in the end zone again. Carney’s kick was good for 27-20, and, with five minutes to go, that was pretty much it.

“That interception killed us,” McKee was to say later, adding that “three times that night we turned the ball over in the red zone, wasting scoring opportunities.”

Another interception by Rinaldi, with about two and a half minutes left, keyed another score, a 17-yard run around the right side by Josh Aube that extended the Hampton Bays lead to 33-20. Jordan Johnson blocked the extra-point kick.

The Baymen picked off another East Hampton pass just before the game ended.

“In close games the little things can mean a lot, like false starts, and we’ve got to work on those,” said the coach, “but I thought the kids played well. We’re right there. . . . The referees were great.”

As far as the stats went, McKee said that the team gained 303 yards rushing, and that Brandon Johnson, who, he said, had been “phenomenal” of late, had 311 all-purpose yards, two touchdowns, and 10 tackles. Jordan Johnson, he said, gained 93 yards on 10 carries, and Axel Alanis, who carried the ball quite a bit in the early going when the Baymen were looking for the Johnsons to do so, gained 42 yards on 11 totes.

One of Brandon Johnson’s touchdowns resulted from an 85-yard run midway through the third quarter, which treated East Hampton to a 20-14 lead; the other, which tied the score at 14-14, occurred near the end of the second quarter when he and Jacen Tuthill, the sophomore jayvee quarterback, who had come in when Daige was taken out momentarily after having had the wind knocked out of him, combined on a 71-yard touchdown pass play.

“That kid has a lot of potential,” McKee said of Tuthill. “It was a beautiful play. They were rushing from the outside. We pulled a guard, and Jacen stepped up and let it go” from East Hampton’s 29.

Tuthill was one of three jayvee players the varsity brought up that day — the others were Shane O’Dwyer, a sophomore running back/linebacker, and Kevin Weiss, a sophomore offensive and defensive lineman.

Near the end of the third quarter East Hampton almost came to grief as a Hampton Bays punt touched an onrushing Bonac defender, after which it was recovered by the Baymen’s Tyler Carbone at East Hampton’s 32. The Baymen failed to score on that series though, as a 14-yard fourth-down pass thrown to Juan Arango was dropped.

This Saturday, East Hampton is to play at Mount Sinai. Gametime, as of this writing, is 1:30 p.m., though McKee said he was trying to get it changed “because a couple of kids will be taking A.C.T.s.”