Franklin Roosevelt running back Tristan Thomas took a handoff on the first play from scrimmage up the middle and scampered 89 yards for a touchdown. Thomas and FDR never looked back.
The Cougars handed Bayside its first loss of the season, 36–14, in Public School Athletic League Bowl conference football last Saturday afternoon at Midwood Athletics Complex. FDR’s success came largely on the strength of a running game led by Thomas and quarterback Kaseem Morrison.
Thomas scored twice in the first quarter and added runs of 59 and 41 yards to set up scores by Morrison. He found pay dirt twice on option runs of 15 and 21 yards.
“Tristan’s a tough runner,” Cougars coach Paul Klyap said. “He’s someone who wants the ball every play. I was proud of him today because a lot of times [Morrison] would pull the ball on an option and he would take a beating while the quarterback ran for a touchdown.”
Thomas continuously pounded into a wall of defenders at the line of scrimmage, but was able to break free on numerous occasions for large gains.
“We know we had to come out strong and we did,” Thomas said. “Hard work beats talent and we work hard, it’s what we do.”
Working hard wasn’t just an offensive theme, as the Franklin Roosevelt defense stymied the Bayside (5–1) attack all game. On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Cougars defense helped their own cause as defensive end Mohammed Beshir picked up a fumbled snap and returned it 40 yards for the score.
“That was the best I’ve seen [the defense] play all year,” Klyap said. “We have a lot of guys go both ways and we expect a lot of them.”
Franklin Roosevelt’s biggest moment of adversity came on the last play of the first half when Bayside’s Trevon Moe rumbled 77 yards to cut the FDR (5–1) lead to 14–8. Coming out in the second half Bayside would receive the kickoff with a chance to build momentum and tie the score, but Roosevelt’s defense rose to the challenge and didn’t allow Bayside a first down, much to the delight of their coach.
“I told them three and out, three and out” Klyap said. “They’re going to get the ball, don’t panic let’s get a three and out and that’ll be it.”
The win has FDR riding high and in third place in the conference standing, just a game behind unbeaten South Shore and McKee/Staten Island Tech. But the players know their work is not done.
“We could go the chip” Thomas said. “It’s what we need, it’s what we want, but we want to get better at everything.”