Tigers beat New Utrecht, advancing to quarterfinals

This would be second meeting of these two teams within the last three weeks as the 8-2 fifth seeded Fort Hamilton Tigers hosted the 4-6 12th seeded New Utrecht Utes in the 2015 PSAL City Conference first round of the playoffs.

Led by quarterback Connor Fitzsimons, Fort Hamilton controlled the first half as the Tigers maintained ball control to send running back Noah Solano into the end zone twice to the give the Tigers a 14-0 halftime lead.

In the second half, New Utrecht could only muster a lone touchdown and was overshadowed by the Tiger defense with interceptions by Blake Smaw and Shawn Tafe, and a fumble recovery in the end zone by Carl St. Paul for a touchdown. On offense, Fitzsimons added a touchdown on a keeper, while running backs Troy Booker (106 total yards) and Seba Nekhet (85 total yards) kept the ball in Fort Hamilton’s possession for the second half.

With the game all but over, with the score 28-6 in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter, Fort Hamilton fans and the coaching staff had one of those “I don’t believe what I just saw” moments when Solano was robbed of a touchdown as was later confirmed by a review of the game’s video.

After busting through the left side of the Utes’ defense, Solano sprinted 45 yards for what looked like a touchdown as he was pulled down just over the goal line. Although Solano had a career game with two touchdowns and 135 yards, a third touchdown would have been a personal best for the hard-running senior.

Advancing to the quarterfinals next week, the 9-2 fifth seeded Tigers enter the “meat and potatoes” portion of the playoffs as they travel to Coney Island to play the always tough 8-2 fourth seeded Lincoln Railsplitters.

Looking forward to the meeting against rival Lincoln, Assistant Fort Hamilton Coach Ean Evars stated, “They’re always good. It’s going to be a war and we have to meet intense emotions. They have great athletes and a great staff with tremendous football knowledge.”

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