Engineers chug past Grand Street with power run game

Brooklyn Tech left the bells and whistles at home. After turning the ball over seven times last week in a loss to Thomas Jefferson, the Engineers had the most conservative of game plans: just pound the run, play after play.

“We really stressed that this week, limiting turnovers,” coach Kyle McKenna said. “We didn’t want to have to worry about putting the ball on the ground. … I think we have an outstanding offensive line. We really wanted to showcase that.”

Grand Street Campus had no answer.

Brooklyn Tech pounded out 269 yards on the ground in a 36-8 win Sunday afternoon in PSAL City Championship division football in Williamsburg. Senior running back Gino Nadela, who is just 5-foot-2 and 140 pounds, racked up 137 yards on 22 carries.

“It’s all the line,” Nadela said. “There’s hardly anybody coming at me. I just go through the holes they make.”

McKenna joked that Nadela is so small, running among the huge bodies on the offensive line, that he sometimes gets lost and appears on the other side of the pile. Assistant coach Derek Randall describes that as “going ninja.”

“That means I get down as low as I can so nobody sees me,” Nadela said with a laugh. “Once I go through the line, then I spread out.”

Mazaharul Islam’s 63-yard run in the first quarter set up a 2-yard quarterback keeper by Kevi Shyti for the game’s first touchdown. Standout sophomore James Gales made his presence felt in the second quatrer. He found pay dirt on a 23-yard run to make it 16-0 and on the ensuing Grand Street possession he intercepted Cristian Pena and returned it for an 82-yard score.

Just like that, Brooklyn Tech (3-2) was up 22-0 when it looked like Grand Street (2-3) was knocking on the door with 1:20 left in the first half.

“I think it was a huge momentum turner,” McKenna said.

The defense came up with another massive play in the third quarter. With Grand Street driving, safety Suyeta Griffin sacked Pena and stripped him of the ball. Brooklyn Tech sophomore Thomas Plonski recovered to stall another Wolves drive.

“They weren’t getting anything on offense,” Gales said.

And the Engineers just kept rolling. Shyti’s 8-yard touchdown pass to 6-foot-4 tight end Stephen Harris gave them a 29-0 lead with 9:42 left in the game. Shyti was 6-of-7 passing – with five of those going to Harris – for 84 yards with three touchdowns, including two on the ground.

On the next play from scrimmage, Pena hit Ismail Height for a 55-yard touchdown to make it 29-8, but Brooklyn Tech commenced an 11-yard drive, culminating with a Shyti 5-yard keeper, that drained 6:23 off the clock.

“Looking at it in the big picture, there’s a big difference between being 2-3 and being 3-2,” McKenna said. “It’s huge.”

The second-year coach was Grand Street’s offensive coordinator for seven years under former coach Eddie Gazzillo, so the victory had added meaning for him. McKenna remains tight with Wolves coach Mike Lightfoot and his staff. And he also knows quite a bit about their personnel — enough to keep the ball on the ground time after time.

“We kept doing what was working,” McKenna said.

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