Tough night on the gridiron for Spartans

BHS junior Fiore Alailima reflects on the first half in the Spartan locker room during halftime Friday. - JULIE BUSCH photo
BHS junior Fiore Alailima reflects on the first half in the Spartan locker room during halftime Friday.
— image credit: JULIE BUSCH photo

It was a night for big plays.

Unfortunately, all of them went the wrong way, and the Spartan varsity gridders left Memorial Stadium at the wrong end of a 41-6 deficit to Eastside Catholic Friday evening.

The Crusaders deep men pitched the opening kickoff between them and ran it back 90 yards for a game-opening score, putting Bainbridge on its heels just seconds into the game.

And the Spartans were burned twice on halfback options, a bit of old-school chicanery that saw the running back sweep wide with the ball and find an open receiver downfield.

“It was basically five, six plays in the game,” coach Andy Grimm said. “I thought we shut down their run pretty well (but) passing wise we got beat on a couple of halfback passes that we had practiced on during the week but our corner got sucked up in man coverage on the run and Number 5 (receiver Jason Butler) got behind him.

“I thought they missed a clip on it (the opening kickoff),” Grimm said. “(Bryan) Gilbreath got clipped, but the kid made a nice run too. We responded pretty well to that. We came back and scored and it was a game at halftime, but we had to come out and find a way offensively to make a big play and we weren’t able to do that. Once they put a couple more on the board, we (were out of it).”

Eastside opened up a 14-0 lead late in the first frame, when quarterback Corey Nasman found a wide-open Butler on the left side and floated the ball to him for a 45-yard catch-and-run score.

Seconds later, towering Eastside receiver Vince Taylor collected a high pass, bounced off two Spartan defenders and bounded 70 yards for another score.

The lone highlight for Bainbridge came with 8:40 to play in the half, when Carter Williams took a quick handoff up the middle and bolted 33 yards for a score. But the kick was blocked, and the Spartans were down 20-6.

The deficit proved insurmountable for a Spartan offense designed for methodical progress on the ground rather than the quick strike.

“It’s out of our gameplan and (out of) what we like to do to get back in it when you’re down by that much,” Grimm said. “We get a score and let’s say it’s 21-14. We can still stay in it and pass when we need to, but when we just try and sit back and pass, we’re not at that level yet.

“Our strength is in our running game.”

The Crusaders’ Butler scored again late in the third, taking a pass 45 yards down the sideline for a touchdown, and midway through the fourth on a halfback option that went for 49 yards.

By evening’s end, the Bainbridge defense had surrendered 321 yards passing, negating their generally solid effort against the run.

Eastside closed out the scoring whenTaylor stripped Spartan quarterback Quinton Agosta and ran the ball back 48 yards to paydirt.

Williams finished with 101 yards on 17 carries and the aforementioned touchdown. As a team, Bainbridge rushed for 192 yards and held the Crusaders to just 113 team yards on the ground.

Defensively, Gabe Culkin had eight tackles (seven solo) while Josh Truan had nine tackles (five solo) and Kyle Petheram had eight tackles (five solo).

The loss, the Spartans’ third in as many weeks, dropped their record to 1-3 in Metro league play and 4-4 overall on the season.

“The competition stepped up the last few weeks,” Grimm saaid. “I still feel athletically, the Blanchet game we did not play well. If we could put the effort forth the way we did against O’Dea the last two weeks, I think we would have seen not necessarily wins but much better games.”

The Spartans play on a rare Thursday evening game tomorrow, hosting Lakeside at 7 p.m.

It’s the team’s last home game of the season.

“Our goal from here on out is to win the next two,” Grimm said. “(A record of) 6-4 is nothing to be ashamed about record wise.

“The kids’ spirits are good. You just have to redirect and remotivate.”

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