Bengals boot Lee Academy with fourth-quarter touchdown
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Brooks Academy.
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All Brooks Academy athletes went through a boot camp before their seasons. The value of the exercise surfaced Sept. 4.
The Bengals football team had a gut-check after securing the lead against Lee Academy late in a non-district game Sept. 4 at Wheatley Heights Sports Complex. Brooks Academy (1-1) contained the Wolfpack deep in their own territory to snap a nine-game losing streak and prevail 32-29.
“It just puts us through mental and physical exercises,” Bengals senior running back-linebacker Michael Galata said of the boot camp. “We jump over pylons, do a bunch of rolls and some speed work. It tests our limits.
Galata scored what proved to be the winning touchdown on a six-yard run with 11:22 remaining. However, Lee Academy (0-2) rallied to cut the lead to 32-29 with 4:02 left on an 11-yard run from backup quarrterback Jeremiah Reyna.
“This means a lot ot us,” Galata said. “Coach (Eric) Hernandez came here four years ago and he’s taught us not to quit.”
Brooks Academy’s previous win was a 44-6 decision over Lee Academy Dec. 5, 2014 – when the school was named Hawkins. That was the Bengals’ first victory in about four years.
Sustainability is an important word at Brooks Academy this year as the school with high academic ideals seems in the midst of an athletic upturn. Girls teams in basketball, volleyball and softball all qualified for the playoffs last year. Several boys and girls individuals qualified for state in wrestling and power lifting.
Hernandez said his team wanted to show it could beat the improved Wolfpack as a sign of progress and the ability to overcome adversity.
“This one feels better,” he said, “because we wanted to come back and make sure we could win again.”
Bengals senior quarterback Chris Llamas scored the only third-quarter touchdown on a two-yard sneak. Galata ran for two points, enabling Brooks Academy to take a 24-23 lead into the final quarter.
“We’ve just been targeting our senior year,” Galata said. “This is my last homecoming. We needed to do it. We’re all brothers. We’re one big family.”
Brooks Academy wasted no time in taking the initial lead. Edwin Lopez returned the opening kickoff 86 yards to the end zone.
The Bengals’ 8-0 lead held up only until 5:15 remained in the quarter, when Lee Academy quarterback
Deviontray Pitts bolted 26 yards around right end, then ran in the two-point conversion. The Wolfpack took an eight-point lead on the first play of their next possession when Taurean Dumas broke a 54-yard run up the middle.
Galata scored his first touchdown with 2:31 until halftime after Brooks Academy recorded a defensive stop and drove 41 yards to tie it 16-16. Twenty-three seconds later, Dumas went 51 yards to regain the lead.
“They guys just got out there and played,” Hernandez said of the second half. “We stopped thinking so much.
“We had been blitzing a lot, but we just went back to our basic defense, We put the kids in situations where they could be successful.”
MORE TO COME