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Berkeley grounds Jets; undefeated in league

By Sean Gates Daily Planet Correspondent
Saturday October 14, 2000

It’s a lesson as old as humanity itself: it’s not how you start something, but whether you finish it. The Berkeley High Yellowjackets (2-4, 2-0) started the first four games of the regular season with tough losses in non-conference play. But a 26-19 victory over the Encinal Jets (2-4, 1-1) Friday night gave the Yellowjackets a 2-0 record in conference play that might turn some heads within their very own ACCAL league. 

“When we want to play, we can step up,” noted Ramone Reed, senior running back and linebacker for the Yellowjackets. Reed certainly came to play, rushing for 112 yards on 18 carries and scoring two touchdowns on the ground and one on a punt return. Reed spearheaded a Berkeley rushing attack that racked up 183 rushing yards. 

The Encinal Jets took to the air as quarterback Jimmy Olsen hoisted 27 pass attempts en route to 187 yards and a touchdown. Olsen completed passes to five different receivers, as running back Tyree Jackson snared a team-high six receptions for 54 yards.  

Berkeley, on the other hand, saw fortune drop right in their lap as Encinal went three and out on their first possession and was forced to punt from deep within their own territory. A botched snap led to a deflection, which was reeled in by the aforementioned Reed at the Jet 20 yard line. Reed did the rest, zooming in for a score. 

Leading by seven in the second quarter, Berkeley’s defense rose to the occasion like it has all season. Senior defensive back Wuagwa Nnamel stripped Jet wide receiver Ray Thomas of the football with just over 11 minutes remaining in the second quarter. Two plays later, Reed, who admits he is “more focused on offense right now,” transformed a sweep into six more points with a 26-yard touchdown run, and the Yellowjackets went into halftime with a 13-0 lead. 

Encinal’s defense sparked their first score when Iknika Thomas scooped up a fumble by Berkeley quarterback Nitoto Muhammed for a 38-yard touchdown. After forcing a Yellowjacket punt, the Jets called another of their patented screen passes to wideout Nick Lory, who weaved his way across the field for a 45-yard touchdown score to tie the game at 13-13 with 40 seconds left in the third quarter. 

Then came the key drive of the game, as Berkeley’s Germey Baird bruised his way to the Yellowjacket 45 on the ensuing kickoff return. Muhammed then called wide receiver Chavallier Patterson’s number on a streak pattern down the right sideline pass good for 40 yards. Reed’s subsequent 12-yard touchdown run with 11:49 left in the game gave the Yellowjackets a 20-13 lead.  

The Jets appeared to be ready for takeoff when a 14-yard touchdown rush by Jackson pulled Encinal within one point with the extra point attempt to follow. But the Jets decided to go for two and failed, and Berkeley’s final score – a one-yard QB sneak by Muhammed with 2:41 left in the game – sealed the deal for the ’Jackets. 

Berkeley returns home on Friday to host the Richmond Oilers.