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Sheepshead runs past Wagner on final drive

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Susan Wagner had all the momentum. The Falcons had just scored touchdowns on two of their last three drives, the last one a 21-yard rush by Willie Echevarria to retake the lead with 5:42 left in the game. Sheepshead Bay, on the other hand, was sputtering.

“We didn’t have much offense, it looked like, for awhile,” Sharks coach Fred Snyder admitted.

It came alive just when Sheepshead needed it the most. Quarterback Deejay White and running back Naquan Alexander led the Sharks on an 11-play, 80-yard drive that White finished with a 12-yard touchdown run with 1:40 left.

No. 7 Sheepshead Bay held on for a 34-28 home win against No. 10 Susan Wagner in the PSAL City Championship football division first round this past Sunday. The Sharks will meet No. 2 Erasmus Hall, which knocked off Midwood, in the quarterfinals this Saturday.

The touchdown was off a perfect fake to Alexander, who had just gotten a key first down to the 12 on 3rd-and-2. All but one of the plays %u2013 a White 17-yard pass to Carlie to start the drive %u2013 was a run. And Wagner (5-5) had no answer.

“We thought they were kind of vulnerable to that,” Snyder said of fakes and counters. “That was the game plan.”

Most teams have been vulnerable to Alexander this year. The track star, part of a national championship relay team two years ago, had 171 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns. With Sheepshead (7-3) down, 16-14, he broke off an 85-yard touchdown run with 46 seconds left in the first half. And to think he came into the game with a left knee injury.

“I thought I was gonna have a bad game,” Alexander said. “Coach said when the game starts, you won’t feel the pain. He was right.”

The Sharks made it 26-16 on Alexander’s 3-yard touchdown, set up by White’s 27-yard pass to Carlie. It looked like Sheepshead would roll from there, but Wagner, which was playing without injured starting quarterback Jordan Rodriguez, fought back.

Backup signal caller Michael Ellam’s 4-yard touchdown got the Falcons within 26-22 with 1:54 left in the third quarter. His 34-yard punt return set up Echevarria’s touchdown that put Wagner ahead, 28-26. Ellam finished with 99 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns.

“I think he was certainly better than [Rodriguez] running the ball,” Snyder said. “He was a handful.”

After starting the season on a two-game losing streak, Sheepshead has come on. The Sharks have won seven of their last eight games, including a 27-20 win against the Falcons in Week 4. Their rushing attack %u2013 with Alexander, White, Carlie and Kalan Smith %u2013 has emerged as one of the best in the city.

“The offensive line has stepped up tremendously the last couple weeks,” White said.

Last week, the Sharks saw themselves as a darkhorse, a sleeper to make a deep run into the postseason. With a favorable matchup next week against banged up Erasmus Hall, Sheepshead could have a rematch with Fort Hamilton on the horizon %u2013 and no team played the top-seeded Tigers closer than the Sharks did in a Week 1, overtime loss.

“Teams should look out for us,” White said.

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