Fort Hamilton HS stymied by Curtis at season opener

The 2014 PSAL football season started on a somber note as a moment of silence was held for a fallen Curtis Warrior prior to the Fort Hamilton-Curtis game on opening day in St. George, Staten Island.

In an unexpected incident earlier in the week, Miles Kirkland — a popular three-year varsity junior — died suddenly after he collapsed on the Curtis practice field. After a eulogy by Principal Dr. Aurelia Curtis, the Warrior football team came onto the field to give a collective hug of consolation to the Kirkland family.

Neither side scored in the first half for a 0-0 tie on this sweltering 90-degree afternoon that saw missed scoring opportunities on both sides. Then, mid-way in the third quarter, Fort Hamilton came close to breaking the stalemate when Juan Tejeda caught and then juggled a 40-yard pass out of the end zone, dashing the Tigers’ hopes to get on the board first for a much-needed emotional and physical lift.

Regaining the ball after a punt, the Warriors responded with Maliek Kelly’s 55-yard sprint to the five-yard line after the Curtis quarterback was chased out of the pocket. From the five, the Warriors pushed across the first score of the game on a Tahmir Caldwell dive over center.

The Warriors quickly regained the ball again after an inception and marched down to the Fort Hamilton 10-yard line where Sharif Jones completed an end-around sweep for the second Curtis touchdown to make the score 12-0 at the end of the third quarter.

In the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, the Tigers put together a too-little-too-late final push to avoid the impending shutout. Mounting a drive from midfield, the Tigers worked their way down to the five-yard line where quarterback Sharif Legree found Devon Watts for a sideline pass into the end zone for the final 12-6 score.

“It was an emotional game and a hot one,” stated Fort Hamilton Head Coach Dan Perez.  “I thought we left four touchdowns on the field today,” he said, citing his team’s failure to connect on several possible scoring opportunities. Looking forward to next week’s home opener against the DeWitt Clinton team from the Bronx, Perez stated, “We’ve just got to get better.”

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