Fort Hamilton 40 Lincoln 28
The Tigers’ quarterfinal win over the reigning 2014 PSAL Champion Railsplitters marked the end of Lincoln’s five-year (2010-2014) dominance of the postseason landscape. Over the past five years, the Railsplitters have been a major part of the PSAL playoff picture, winning three of their four championship appearances, while the Fort Hamilton Tigers have been in a gradual re-building mode since winning their last PSAL title, coincidentally over Lincoln, in 2010.
Finishing the regular season with identical 8-2 records, number four seeded Lincoln hosted number five seeded Fort Hamilton in a first half slugfest that saw three players from each side carried off the field in a game that Tiger Assistant Coach Ean Evars predicted to be intense. After Lincoln’s first score, Fort Hamilton matched three touchdowns with the Railsplitters. As the first half drew to a close, Lincoln led by the score of 21-18.
With Lincoln leading 28-26 late in the third quarter, Fort Hamilton committed a critical miscue when an errant snap sailed over the head of punter Carl St. Paul to the 11-yard line where the Lincoln offense took over for what appeared to be a sure scoring opportunity.
Despite Lincoln’s field position, the Tiger defense prevented the Railsplitters from scoring on four downs from the one yard line, which proved to be the turning point of the game. Describing that stand as “an inspiration,” Assistant Coach Reggie Wilson noted that the defense set the tone for the rest of the game as the offense came alive to score two more decisive touchdowns.
Riding the inspiration from the defense’s goal line stand, the Tigers drove the length of the field in 11 plays early in the fourth quarter as quarterback Connor Fitzsimons connected with a leaping Ayo Idowu in the end zone on an 18-yard pass to put Fort Hamilton ahead 32-28. Still riding their second half momentum, the Tigers scored again on Troy Booker’s third touchdown of the game to send the 10-2 Tigers to the semifinals for the first time in five years.
“Our defense played a hell of a game,” said Fitzsimons. “They stepped up in the second half and got the job done when we really needed it.” As far as the offense, Fitzsimons commented on another one of Booker’s three touchdowns (a 31-yard one-handed catch, a 46-yard run and an 18-yard run), stating, “I know that I can give the ball to him and he’ll pick up yards. He’s been a great safety net for me.”
With the semifinals set for next weekend, Fort Hamilton will host Erasmus Hall, a perennial playoff contender, while undefeated Grand Street will host Curtis, this year’s “wild card” team. The winners from each contest earn their way to play at Yankee Stadium on December 6 for the PSAL’s City Championship game.