Steelers ‘Cooke’ up a win

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 6, 2002

Voyland Cooke scored a touchdown and extra point with under a minute remaining as the Inner-City (IC) Steelers Junior Midget team (1-4) grabbed its first win of the season Saturday, coming from behind to defeat Cavalier Manor (CM) 13-12 at John F. Kennedy Middle School.

After throwing two interceptions in the second half, Cooke led his team on a 26-yard, two-minute drive in the fourth to clinch the win.

Antonio Atkins gave his Spartan team a quick lead when he broke through for a 15-yard touchdown run early in the first quarter. The CM defense tore into the IC backfield to sack Cooke on the ensuing drive to force a punt, getting the ball back at the IC 46. Atkins dashed 21 yards over the next two plays, and he and quarterback Marquay Barner bolted down to the 14. Barner then hit Atkins at the two, and dove in for a two-yard score on the next play. But the extra point try failed again, holding the score at 12-0.

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Cooke finally breathed some life into his offense by returning the kickoff 16 yards to the IC 44. Watley charged to the CM 44, and Cooke tossed a sideline pass to George Morris at the 32.

His first down pass fell incomplete, but an illegal motion penalty notched five yards for IC. The Spartans sacked Cooke for a two-yard loss on the next play, and Chris McLeen could manage only five yards on third down, giving the Steelers a fourth-and-two on the CM 24.

Cooke faded back, and calmly threw to a wide-open Morris over the middle. Morris made it all the way to the seven, and Cooke ran up the middle two plays later for a touchdown. The Spartans blocked the point-after kick, and the half ended with CM up, 12-6.

The Steelers held CM without a first down on the opening drive of the second half, and Watley brought the ensuing punt back to the IC 28. Cooke hit Morris for seven yards on the next play, and Davion Hudson bolted 17 yards on the next two plays. Cooke ran the ball down to the CM 37, but a clipping penalty knocked the Steelers back to midfield, and Barner intercepted Cooke’s pass at the 26.

As the fourth quarter began, the Spartans had a third-and-nine at their own 41, but Hudson found a way into the backfield to sack Barner on third down, forcing a punt. But bad luck came back to catch the Steelers on the next drive, as LaQwan Brodie snatched an interception from Matt Hallan at the CM five.

Atkins gained nine yards on the next two plays, but an illegal motion penalty pushed the Spartans back to their nine on third down, and Barner’s pass fell incomplete.

CM punted, and the ball landed in front of Cooke at the 30, and bounced straight up into the air. Rather than wait for the Spartans to touch it, however, he charged forward, grabbed the ball, and raced to the 26.

With 2:50 to go, Cooke charged up the middle to the eight on first down. He and Hudson pounded to the three on the next two plays, but the Spartans stuffed Hudson for no gain on third down.

Now with 1:02 on the clock, Cooke faded toward the right sideline. But instead of throwing a pass, he suddenly rammed forward, and dove between two defenders into the endzone.

&uot;I was never going to pass,&uot; he said, &uot;but I didn’t think I’d make it because of the defenders. I just dove right in.&uot;

On the extra point, he took the snap, and slammed into a crowd of players in the middle. Cooke met several defenders, but his legs kept churning, and he barreled his way into the endzone for the deciding point.

&uot;I had to run because my team wanted to win,&uot; he said.

But the Spartans weren’t through. Atkins returned the kickoff 22 yards to the IC 48, and Barnes threw a long pass toward Frederick Credle at the 33. But at the last minute, Watley hurled himself in front of Credle and hauled in his first interception of the season to ice the win.

&uot;If anyone was going to catch that ball, it was going to be me,&uot; he said. &uot;It couldn’t be my fault if we lost the game.&uot;

The Steelers will face the Cougars at JFK at 3 p.m. next Saturday.