Tigers blank New Utrecht for another shutout win

“If they don’t score, they can’t win” has become the Tigers’ catchphrase this season, according to Fort Hamilton Head Coach Dan Perez. Once again, the 6-2 Tigers lived up to their catchphrase for their seventh shutout win as they hosted the 4-4 New Utrecht Utes at Fort Hamilton’s last home game of the regular season.

With Fort Hamilton hovering in sixth place (out of 20 teams) in the PSAL’s Championship Division, this game of neighborhood rivals had dual importance as the Tigers looked to retain their current sixth place seed for the playoffs that start in just two weeks.

After a scoreless first quarter, Connor Fitzsimons (3-6 for 82 yards passing) hit Keyshaun Robinson on a 35-yard pass at the 30-yard line to open the second quarter. From the 30, Troy Booker swept the rest of the way into the end zone for the Tigers’ first score. The Utes came back immediately and drove down to the Fort Hamilton 20-yard line until they were stopped on a Shawn Tafe interception at the 12-yard line.

Near the end of the half, Keyshaun Robinson (two catches for 59 yards) circled back from the end zone to save an under-thrown pass with a lunging fingertip catch at the one-yard line. On the next play, Nekhet Seba followed Robinson’s catch with a one-yard run into the end zone to put the Tigers up 14-0 at the half.

In the third quarter, the Tigers started their next scoring drive with a leaping 25-yard pass reception by Ayo Idowu that put Fort Hamilton across midfield. Once into New Utrecht territory, quarterback Fitzsimons (seven carries for 35 yards) and running back Booker (10 carries for 100 yards) ran the option play to perfection, driving the ball down to the three-yard line to set up another Nekhet score to put the Tigers ahead 20-0 at the end of third quarter.

Intent on winning another shutout, in the fourth quarter, defensive captain Jayson Magnani made a big stop on third down, followed by another stop by Shawn Tafe on fourth down forcing the Utes to surrender the ball on downs at 15-yard line for New Utrecht’s last chance to score.

Accounting for his team’s continuous string of shutout wins, defensive captain Jayson Magnani stated, “We owe these wins to our execution and determination. We’ve learned how to overcome adversity and keep our composure. We just played a very good New Utrecht team and I respect those guys.”

On the offensive side, Magnani attributed his team’s scoring success to a strong blocking offensive line, calling Alex Diaz Juarez “the best tackle in the league.” Continuing to lead the offense for big wins, Connor Fitzsimons commented on his deceptive handoff option play, which has been very successful for the Tiger quarterback. “I just read the defense and decide whether to keep the ball or hand off. We practice the option over and over.” Flashing a sly smile, Fitzsimons added, “If I keep the ball, I’m good for at least five yards!”

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