It wasn’t pretty, and they needed a lot of help, but the Baldwin football team captured its first win of the season, 21-14, coming from behind at Westbury last Friday in a Nassau Conference I matchup.
“Feels great,” Baldwin first-year head coach Ernie Blount said. “Great hard work they put in this week. Actually, put it in all season, but this week, they felt extra ready. They hit hard during practice this week, which we haven't really done in the past. They were excited for the game and they executed.”
Down by a point to start the fourth quarter, Baldwin’s defense forced a turnover on downs, giving the ball back to its offense with excellent field position in Westbury territory.
With the ball on the 3-yard line and a goal to go, quarterback Vaughdrea Johnson called his own number, running it in for the go-ahead score and his third touchdown (one passing) of the evening.
“On that play, I felt like I had it a little bit,” said Johnson. “Honestly, it wasn't even really designed for me, but I felt like I had it.”
The junior had 15 carries for 156 yards with two touchdowns and a two-point conversion while completing five of 10 passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. The scoring strike went to Roosevelt Espert Jr. in the third quarter.
“He’s a dude,” Blount said of Johnson. “He threw the ball well, and he ran the ball exceptionally well. We know he can run, and he’s improved greatly, I think anyway, as a passer.”
While Johnson was the player of the game for Baldwin, cornerback Christon Reysor was its hero.
As Westbury attempted to put together a last-minute game-winning or tying drive, Reysor made the game-saving play by picking off Brian Destrat in the end zone.
“It was a cover eight,” said Reysor. “I realized I had the deep half; I saw [Logan Kirchner] get burned, so I had to pick up on it. I dropped back a little bit, and I seen the ball coming. I was like, ‘This is my opportunity to save us.’ I caught the ball and I ran.”
Elsewhere on defense, Xavier Johnson forced two fumbles and recorded a sack in his first game for Baldwin after transferring from Kellenberg this season.
The victory for Baldwin didn’t come easy, however, as the Bruins trailed at halftime 7-0, with their offense struggling to find its rhythm early on. The game was only so close due to undisciplined play by Westbury, which took seven penalties and several more personal fouls.
Regardless, for a Bruins team that had lost back-to-back games to Hempstead and Massapequa by a combined score of 74-6 to open the season, a win is a win.
“We feel good,” Blount said. “We know we have to improve. We've gotten better each week even though the score may not say that, but we have, and we'll be ready.”
Baldwin, which is playing all road games this season as its new turf field gets installed at the high school, visits Syosset this Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.