Fort Hamilton 30 Lincoln 15
Riding the bubble with an outside chance of making the playoffs after beginning the season with a 0-3 record, the 5-4 Tigers took on the formidable second place 8-1 Railsplitters in the last game of the regular season under the lights at Lincoln High. This game would determine if Fort Hamilton’s season ended in Coney Island; or if the Tigers would advance to the postseason after making a strong second half comeback.
The motivated Tigers displayed their determination to extend their season immediately in the first quarter as Jermaine Garner recovered a Lincoln fumble on the game’s opening series. After an exchange of possessions, Daquan Glover blocked Lincoln’s punt that Devon Watts recovered in the end zone for the first score of the game.
Lincoln’s defense then pressed Troy Booker to fumble at midfield, which allowed the Railsplitters eventually to send Louis Rodriquez in to score on a five-yard run.
With Fort Hamilton leading 8-7 to open the second quarter, Booker made up for his earlier fumble by taking Lincoln’s ensuing kickoff 98 yards down the sideline to score the first of his three touchdowns on the evening.
Matching his three scores, this season’s top Tiger scorer also had three fumbles during the game. Admitting that he was anxious, which caused him to have somewhat of an “off game,” Booker explained, “I wanted this game so much that the coaches had to tell me to calm down on the sideline and that worked for me.”
The Tigers further improved their lead on a Lincoln miscue when a punt snap sailed 30 yards downfield where Glover recovered the ball at the Railsplitters’ 20-yard line. From this field position, the Tigers rode their momentum with Booker for his second touchdown of the quarter to give Fort Hamilton a substantial 24-7 lead at the half.
Returning to the field for the second half the Tigers urged their offense to score again to put the game out of Lincoln’s reach by shouting, “FINISH! FINISH!” from the sideline. Heeding their teammates’ encouragement, the Tigers drove downfield for Booker’s third touchdown of the game for a 30-7 third quarter lead.
The Railsplitters came back with one final score as quarterback Roget O’Neil went in on a five-yard run to make the score 30-15 midway in the fourth quarter. With 4:40 left in the game, the Tigers’ defense led by Jayson Magnani stopped the Railsplitters’ final scoring attempt on a fourth and goal from the nine-yard line to seal the Tigers’ improbable big win over Lincoln to qualify for the postseason.
Noting that he had just played “a really good football team,” Lincoln Head Coach Shawn O’Connor stated, “Their record does not speak for who they are. My hat’s off to them tonight.”
Addressing his players in his post game huddle, O’Connor said, “I know this game will stick in your stomachs for a while, but it’s back to work on Monday to prepare for the playoffs.”
As far as O’Connor’s team is concerned, the 8-2 Railsplitters will enjoy a playoff bye next week as the number two seeded team in the PSAL’s City Conference as they work to correct the errors especially made on special teams.
For Fort Hamilton, next week the 6-4 eighth seeded Tigers will host ninth seeded 6-4 New Utrecht in the first round of the playoffs in the second meeting of the season of neighborhood rivals