New Utrecht boasts one of the city’s best defenses, but the Utes’ offence may be a victim of its success.
The play-blocking unit regularly frustrates the team’s offense on the practice field, and Utes coach Alan Balkan is worried that may be why New Utrecht has struggled to score all season.
“I don’t think the kids have a lot of confidence in finishing drives right now,” said Balkan. “It stems from practice.”
New Utrecht turned the ball over three times, twice well inside Flushing territory in a 20–10 loss on the road in Public School Athletic League football last Sunday. It’s the Utes’ third-straight defeat.
“Another week we lost because we couldn’t move the ball on offense,” said senior two-way lineman Kadeen Dryden. “Back to square one. Back to hitting the sled Monday morning.”
The team’s lone touchdown came on a 59-yard pass from Walid Othman to Avery Waterton on a fake punt. The score helped New Utrecht take a 10–6 lead in the third quarter after Angelo Carrera completed the two-point conversion pass to Brandin Coles. The other two points came from a second-quarter safety thanks to a tackle from Dryden.
The Utes had other chances to find the end zone, but couldn’t. Dimaio Benedetto recovered a fumble on the Flushing nine-yard line. New Utrecht drove to the Flushing eight. Carrera was hit as he threw, and Flushing’s Keron Hermitt picked him off at the end zone to keep the Utes off the board. It was the first of two picks for Hermitt. The Utes were later stopped on fourth down from the Flushing 33-yard line after Dryden intercepted Terrence Chavis at the line.
“In my opinion, we aren’t giving Angelo enough time in the pocket,” Dryden said. “We know he is a good quarterback.”
But Balkan, didn’t absolve his defense of blame, despite its strong play.
Chavis ran for two touchdowns, including a 48-yard scamper that helped put Flushing up 13–10 with 43 seconds left in the third. He put the game out of reach by hooking up with Hermitt for a 25-yard score on fourth-and-goal late in the fourth quarter.
“At the end of the game, you can’t give up fourth and 20,” Balkan said. “If we don’t give that up, it is 13–10 our ball with four minutes left in the game.”
Dryden believes his club needs to get back to the way it played in the early part of the season when New Utrecht started 3–0. That starts at practice.
“We have to go back to week one and do the things we have to do,” Dryden said.