Regardless of where he played, TJ Bacon was unstoppable.
The best player on the field on both sides of the ball, Bacon had nine receptions for 95 yards and three touchdowns, three interceptions — including a 60-yard touchdown return — and a fumble recovery.
Bacon’s magnificent all-around performance highlighted a dominant showing by independent Long Island Lutheran in Saturday’s 35-0 win at CHSFL AA-I St. John the Baptist.
“My mindset was just stay locked in, help my teammates when they’re down and perform my best on all sides of the ball,” Bacon said.
The Crusaders improved to 5-0, and the Cougars fell to 2-2.
Following the victory, Lutheran coach Chris Reno told his team it was one of the biggest wins in program history.
“We don’t really get the opportunity to compete locally,” Reno said. “So when we do, it’s a big deal.”
Saturday was Lutheran’s first game of the season on Long Island. The Crusaders’ independent schedule featured prior games in Brooklyn, New Jersey, Connecticut and Rye, New York.
Lutheran quarterback Jeremy Alexandre started the scoring with a 65-yard rushing touchdown late in the first quarter.
Bacon’s pick-six doubled Lutheran’s lead in the second quarter, and Alexandre connected with Bacon for an 8-yard touchdown to go ahead 21-0 with 3:15 left in the first half.
“As each game goes by, [our] chemistry just gets better and better,” Bacon said.
Alexandre found Bacon twice more for scores in the second half — a 6-yard toss with 4:06 left in the third quarter, and an 18-yard pass with 6:17 remaining in the game.
“It makes my job easier, he makes me look good,” Alexandre said. “… I put the ball in his area, and he’s going to catch it. So that was our motto this week.”
Alexandre completed 21 of 32 passes for three touchdowns and two first-half interceptions.
Bacon’s four takeaways powered a stout Lutheran defensive effort, which also included two interceptions by Dom Gangi and one by Joshua George for six total picks. St. John the Baptist had just four first downs.
“We did a lot of tape work and saw what they like to do, and I think that they pulled out all the stops [in last Friday’s win] against Chaminade, that was a pretty big game for them,” Reno said. “So we had an idea of what their bread and butter was … The kids went out there and executed.”
Lutheran not only valued the opportunity to play on Long Island, but it wants to prove it can hold its own in football as well.
“LuHi has a good football team, man,” Alexandre said. “It’s not a basketball school, it’s a football and basketball school.”