Baldwin orchestrated two fourth-quarter touchdown drives last Saturday but it wasn’t enough to give longtime head coach Steve Carroll a victory in his final home game at the helm.
Freeport recovered a late on-side kick to hold off the Bruins, 20-12, for its first win of the campaign following three straight defeats and a one-week hiatus due to an opponent’s quarantine situation. Freshman quarterback D’Angelo Gordon rushed for two touchdowns, including a 32-yard scramble on the first snap of the fourth quarter, and junior Donte Lloyd provided an insurance score with 5:11 remaining to lead the Red Devils.
“The kids played their butts off and that’s all I can ask,” said Carroll, who after 34 seasons as the team’s head coach will retire following this Saturday’s season finale at Hempstead. “It’s such a young team and the smallest roster I’ve ever had,” he added. “We have 27 kids when we’re usually at least in the 40s. We have six who never put on a uniform before this season. They’ve all worked hard.”
Carroll, who has a record of 165-120-4 as Baldwin’s head coach, including 24 playoff victories, guided the Bruins to the Nassau Conference I championship in 2005. He said he decided during the first week of March this season would be his last. “It’s time,” he said. “It’s been a tremendous ride.”
Baldwin Athletic Director Ed Ramirez said Carroll informed him of the decision about a month ago. “Coach Carroll has been nothing but class on and off the field here for well over 30 years,” Ramirez said. “He’s been a mentor for a lot of these young men and even for myself he’s always been a person I could go to for advice.”
The Bruins, who slipped to 2-3, saw senior Jasigha Barnes debut at quarterback and throw long fourth-quarter touchdown passes to seniors Kenneth Ojeikere (38 yards) and Sage Burke (24.) Barnes (14-for-22, 250 yards) became the team’s third signal-caller of the season, following senior Daren Rodney and junior Zachary Kirchner.
“We gave Jasigha the game ball,” Carroll said. “He played out of his mind in the second half.”
Freeport led 6-0 at halftime thanks to Gordon’s 6-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter. A huge defensive stand by Baldwin’s defense late in the second quarter kept the margin at one score. A 67-yard run by senior Christian Quinn gave the Red Devils a first-and-goal at the Bruins 7. However, pressure from seniors Michael Frazier and Steve Nickle up front, and pass breakups by Ojekiere and senior Keyon Wingate, foiled the threat.
Freeport’s defense, led by linemen Wildy Baez, Tyrek Rawls and Angel Arroyo, didn’t crack until the fourth quarter when the teams combined for 26 points. Ojiekere had seven receptions for 126 yards, Burke added four grabs for 92 yards, and junior Sean Platt had a 49-yard catch.
“It was an emotional day,” Carroll said. “I wasn’t expecting a pre-game ceremony with my family here. It was a nice surprise.”