SPRINGFIELD -- In the end, Taconic just ran out of bodies.
Backup quarterback Troy Ziter, who was filling in for the injured Jordan Barbarotta was one of four significant injuries suffered by the already depleted Braves in a tough 6-0 loss to Commerce at Springfield Central High School’s Berte Field.
"We have no depth, the same situation that a lot of teams in the county are in," coach Vin Barbarotta said. "When we lose players, it hurts, but we still need to make plays."
The Braves were able to move the ball sporadically, they weren’t able to take advantage of key situations when they had the Red Raiders on the ropes.
After punting on its first possession, the Braves were able to move the ball on the ground with Trayvon Sims and Jordan Pasquarelli and got down to the Commerce 14-yard line, but Pasquarelli couldn’t pick up the first down on a fourth-and-4 play to halt the drive.
Ziter was sacked in the second quarter -- popping his shoulder out, according to Barbarotta -- and never returned, pressing junior Drew Scace into action.
On Scace’s first series, he completed a 22-yard pass to Sims and the Braves got the benefit of two Commerce penalties, including a personal foul that set them up with a first and goal on the Red Raiders’ 4-yard line, but Scace fumbled the snap to squander the opportunity.
"[Scace] doesn’t see a lot of time under center and sure enough, the first time he was there, we turned the ball over," Barbarotta said. "We keep shooting ourselves in the foot and we can’t keep doing that, especially when we are shorthanded."
The Braves also missed a golden opportunity in the third quarter when Scace identified a mismatch downfield and hurled a pass from the Commerce 21-yard line in the direction of 6-foot-5 tight end Jake Hescock, who was working against 5-foot-10 Nasir Thomas. It was Thomas, however, who came away with the ball, snatching it out of the receiver’s hands to prevent the touchdown.
Commerce finally broke the scoreless tie with 8:15 remaining when Thomas caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Marque Gibson.
On its next possession, the Braves made a bid to even the score or take the lead, but the drive stalled at the Commerce 34-yard line when Scace threw a pass on fourth and seven to Sims for four yards. Sims was hit hard and the ball popped loose. While Taconic recovered, the ball, it was not able to pick up the yardage to continue the drive.