Erasmus eliminates Fort Hamilton in semifinal showdown

Erasmus 48 Fort Hamilton 8

Hosting the Dutchmen in the 2015 PSAL semifinal playoff round, the Fort Hamilton Tigers’ game plan was simple – “Stop number eleven” referring to Aaron Grant, one of the league’s top running and passing quarterbacks.

However, the Tigers’ preparation never envisioned “number eleven” totally eluding the strong Fort Hamilton defense as Grant ran for two touchdowns and passed for two more as a part of Erasmus’ hefty 40-8 halftime lead. Commenting on his team’s first half performance, Erasmus Head Coach Danny Landberg stated, “They did everything perfect. I couldn’t ask for better play from them in the first half.”

Oddly enough, it was the Fort Hamilton defense that brought the fifth seeded 8-2 Tigers to the semifinals, along with seven shutout wins and a strong showing in the previous week’s 40-28 quarterfinal win over rival Lincoln.

But after Seba Nekhet’s 11-yard run for a lone touchdown in the first half, Fort Hamilton never appeared in sync in its attempt to make up 32 points in the second half. The Tigers uncharacteristically dropped passes and incurred penalties as the Dutchmen defense simply dominated the game.

Still reeling from the aftermath of the Dutchman defense, a disappointed but objective Connor Fitzsimons stated, “They have a real good Erasmus team over there. They played full football in every phase of the game. Today, they were better than us and that’s why the scoreboard looks the way it does.”

Awaiting the final whistle, co-captain Jayson Magnani took charge and rallied his dejected teammates together for one final huddle, instructing them to hold their heads up and to remember what they’d accomplished to get to this point in the season.

Although visions of playing for the 2015 PSAL championship next week at Yankee Stadium “danced in their heads,” elimination at the semifinal playoff round was actually a success story for the 10-3 Tigers as they walked off the field congratulating the victorious Dutchmen.

This would be the first time that Fort Hamilton would make it to the “final four” since being the first team to win the PSAL Championship at Yankee Stadium to top off an undefeated 2010 season. Recalling the tailspin of a season in 2012 and progress made since then, Tiger Head Coach Dan Perez stated, “We were 1-7 that season and worked very hard to improve. Today, we were one game away from Yankee Stadium but unfortunately fell short. I’m very proud of the group we had and the job they did.”

At noon on Sunday, December 6 at Yankee Stadium, the surging 10-3 Dutchmen will meet this year’s juggernaut, the undefeated 12-0 Wolves of Grand Street Campus for the PSAL’s City Championship in what lines up to be a high scoring match-up.

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