Immaculate Conception football cruises by Shabazz behind big plays on offense in win
The game was over right after it began.
Shabazz kicked off to Immaculate Conception. The low-flying ball dropped right in front of Immaculate wide receiver Jasin Shiggs and bounced into his hands. Shiggs knew exactly what to do.
He saw a gap along the sideline and made a break for it, weaving through several defenders on his way to an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
The Lions would go on to defeat Shabazz, 30-8, at Codey Field in front of a Homecoming Day crowd. Immaculate raised its record to 5-3.
Shiggs thinks scoring early made a big difference. “That’s what we wanted to do, " the junior said. “We want to come out and score, get in the end zone, set the tone, and let everybody know we’re here to play.”
Immaculate running back Eriq Harris also spoke about the power of that opening touchdown. “It’s motivating because when one man makes a play, we all get fired up,” said the senior, who led the team with 146 total yards, of which 122 came on the ground, including a 73-yard touchdown run.
Lions head coach Maurice Lucas was proud of how his team began the game. “In the first quarter they came out on fire, one hundred miles per hour,” Lucas said.
That speed and intensity was reflected by the score. Shiggs scored on a 25-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Davion Young. On the next drive junior wide receiver Jahine Lesaine caught a 40-yard touchdown pass from Young. By the end of the first quarter, the score was 20-0. On the day Young threw for two touchdowns and 99 yards.
Immaculate added a 21-yard field goal by junior Ben Price in the opening moments of the second quarter to increase the lead to 23.
While Lucas was down on how Immaculate played in the second half, he did acknowledge the underlying talent of his team. “We have playmakers,” he said. “When we play like a team, we are very good.”
The coach’s sentiment about playmakers was backed up by the statistics. In addition to his kickoff return, Shiggs caught that 25-yard touchdown from Young to go along with Lesaine’s 40-yard touchdown.
Even with all the fireworks on offense, Immaculate’s defense might have been the better unit, led by senior Dakota Carreras, who had three sacks. It took the Bulldogs three and a half quarters to score.
When they finally did, their game play was flashy and dynamic. Shabazz quarterback Kyle Bracewell had a special connection with wide receiver Royce Westry. Wide receiver Jashir Treadwell made some big catches as well.
Bracewell felt comfortable throwing as he ran, which drew some comparisons to Texas A&M star quarterback Johnny Manziel from the sidelines. Bracewell was a strong runner, too.
Shabazz scored its only points with seven minutes left in the game and completed a two-point conversion to get its total to eight. Despite not scoring more, Shabazz’s offense continued to move the ball with ease in the final minutes.
Lucas was very disappointed that Immaculate did not get a shutout, as he wants to instill a higher sense of competitiveness in his team. “We just gotta learn that when you have them against the ropes, you don’t let up on the gas,” he said. “We felt like the game was won. We played down to the level of the competition. We were scoreboard-watching.”
Shiggs echoed his coach’s message. “We had an OK game, a decent game, we put up 30 points, but it wasn’t the right way,” he said.
Immaculate has a bye this weekend during which it can focus on its competitiveness and communication. The Lions will have a chance to show what they’ve learned when they play at Morris Catholic on Friday, Oct. 28, at 7 p.m.
Harris is ready for the next game. “I feel like when we all just work together and stand tall, we can make it,” he said.