Dark Knights: Madison drops first game of season in lopsided loss

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The James Madison football team hopes learn from this one.

The Knights dropped the squad’s first game of the season in disappointing fashion, falling 39–8 to Bayside on Sept. 30 in a Public Schools Athletic League Bowl Conference tilt. Madison couldn’t get much going in the lopsided defeat. The squad did its best to stay positive after the final whistle blew, but it was difficult to find many bright spots.

“We knew we were going to be in a battle,” said Madison coach Thomas Mobilia. “They came out and they played well, and we didn’t get on track on offense. That’s what happened.”

Bayside (4–0) opened firing on all cylinders, scoring on its first drive as Nathaneal Faison found the end zone on a one-yard run.

The Commodores ground game was nothing short of dominant in the first half — running backs seemed to bounce off Madison defenders as soon as they touched the ball. Bayside racked up 201 rushing yards in the first half alone, and the Knights (3–1) were left searching for answers amid missed tackles.

“We have a good team,” Bayside coach Jason Levitt said. “Special teams is good, defense is good, offense is good — they’re tough.”

Bayside jumped out to a 14-point cushion early the second quarter, but Elijah Walcott took the wind out of Madison’s sails by making a fumble recovery with a little more than eight minutes left in the half and setting up another Commodores touchdown.

“Coach told us to get the ball … so we had another chance to score,” Walcott said. “He just told me to go get it, and I did that.”

The Commodores offense didn’t slow down in the second half.

Robert Williams and Jonathan Cato both notched touchdown runs in the third quarter — from 52 and 51 yards out respectively — and Madison was visibly frustrated on every snap.

If there was a silver lining in the loss, it came early in the fourth quarter when Matthew Melbourne snapped the scoring drought with a 15-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Zachary James set up the score after converting on fourth down, but it was too little, too late.

The loss is a big-time wake-up call for the Knights, a squad that came into the matchup riding high after opening the season with three solid wins.

This game, however, the Knights punted on six of their first seven drives — the other ended with a turnover on downs.

Now Madison is hoping it can take something away from the loss.

“It’s a good learning experience,” Mobilia said. “You’re not going to win every game, but you’ve just got to focus and work for next week.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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