Baldwin ran its win streak to four, but more importantly, kept its season alive with a 28-0 victory over Uniondale in the first round of the Nassau Conference I football playoffs at Freeport High School last Saturday.
The third-seeded Bruins (7-2 overall) took some time to get moving against the Knights, but once they did, the big plays flowed faster than gas at the pumps. Senior running back Jovaun Tomlinson scored on runs of 44 and 40 yards, and senior Travais Hylton pulled in a 45-yard touchdown.
“[The Knights] did a good job from the [first meeting] to playoff week,” Baldwin head coach Steve Carroll said. “They made a few adjustments defensively that gave us some fits.”
Tomlinson, who’s run for 1,157 yards and 16 touchdowns in nine games, broke free for one of his patented long touchdown runs in the second quarter to break a scoreless tie. Junior quarterback Tyler Warner connected with Hylton in the third quarter, with senior Trayvon Mask adding a second touchdown in the frame on a 20-yard run. Tomlinson closed out the scoring in the fourth quarter with his 40-yard run. “He knows how to hit the edge,” Carroll said of Tomlinson, who is averaging nearly 10 yards per carry this season. “On his second touchdown, two guys had the angle on him until he stopped and one slid past him.”
And the way he’s teamed up with Mask has given Baldwin a fearsome one-two punch in the backfield. “With Trayvon, if he can’t get around you, he’ll run over you,” Carroll said.
The victory catapulted the Bruins into a semifinal round matchup against No. 2 Oceanside at Hofstra on Thursday at 4 p.m.
The Sailors boast an 8-1 mark, but that one loss came at the hands of Baldwin on Oct. 20, 28-21. The Tomlinson/Mask tandem combined for 310 yards rushing in the win, but more importantly, the defense limited Oceanside to a season low point total. And as topsy-turvy as Conference I has been in 2012, seeds are nothing but a number. “Any of the four teams [remaining] is capable of winning it,” Carroll said.
Playing perhaps their best football of the season, Baldwin has outscored its last four opponents by a combined 126-34 with two teams kept off the scoreboard completely. The key for the Bruins lies at linebacker, where seniors Lucas Krucher and Ryan Mahoney have teamed with senior Jonathan Robinson and Matt Guilfoyle. Krucher and Mahoney have excelled at rushing the quarterback, while Robinson has piled up 50 tackles and Guilfoyle has come on strong after missing the first four games due to injury.
“It’s hard to cover Oceanside,” Carroll said of a Sailors team that has averaged 37.9 points entering the semifinal battle. “They have so many weapons and coach [Rob] Blount does so well with [designing] so many schemes.”