By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Lincoln had taken an early 14-0 lead in last Saturday’s Public School Athletic League quarterfinal game, but New Utrecht started the second quarter off with a 32-yard pass that left it at the one-yard line in a big position to get back into the game.
With Jaleel Brown, who finished fourth in the city with 1,088 yards rushing, one yard is usually nothing, a foregone conclusion. But not on Saturday, not against Lincoln’s defensive line featuring four-star recruit Thomas Holley. The Utes were stopped in their tracks and eventually turned the ball over on downs at the two.
Four minutes later, Javon “Spanky” Moore found Luis Rodriguez open for a 38-yard touchdown pass which put Lincoln ahead 21-0. The Utes, who looked poised to get back in the game just minutes earlier, were suddenly trailing to a team that had only allowed as many as 20 points in a game twice this season. Of course, that was all Lincoln needed, as the Railsplitters went on to beat the Utes 39-8 in Coney Island on Saturday to advance to the PSAL semifinals.
“That was a big impact on the game, that was the play that put them away, even though it was early because as soon as the defense did what it had to do, the offense came out and put them away,” Lincoln defensive back Khendell Puryear said.
The Railsplitters never let up at any point in that game and had the big play working for them all day. Their first score was on a 36-yard run from Leroy Hancle. Then Moore found Carlos Stewart for a 60-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0. Antoine Holloman peeled off a 68-yard touchdown run to make it 27-0, Jahsi Meade had a big interception to kill a critical New Utrecht drive late in the second and Stewart caught a 63-yard touchdown pass to make it 33-0 just before halftime.
The Utes didn’t make a dent in the scoreboard until Richard Wright found Jonathan Trigueno for a 59-yard touchdown pass, but there was no threat of a comeback. Lincoln’s backups finished out a scoreless fourth quarter.
Lincoln is now just one step away from its ultimate goal of getting back to Yankee Stadium, which will host the 2013 PSAL city championship. The Railsplitters are feeling good about it too as they have had no trouble staying motivated, remaining focused on each team each week and feel that they are clicking on both offense and defense right now.
“It was a good test to play New Utrecht,” Lincoln head coach Shawn O’Connor explained. “They’re a good team and from having played with them at the Big Apple Games and back in September, they know us well, know what our weaknesses are. It was more than just a competitive game, it was a battle between two close friends.”
Holley agreed with O’Connor’s assessment and went on to say that he feels like the team is highly motivated after being eliminated by Tottenville in the semis last season. He also explained how the bond the team shares has helped to keep them working hard each and every week.
“This team is focused,” Holley said. “We knew what we had to do. We came out strong from the beginning and finished strong. Guys weren’t fooling around. I think that because we are so close nobody wants to let each other down. Even in practice this week, it was very cold, but guys weren’t using that as an excuse, we just huddled up next to each other to keep warm and kept working hard.”
Lincoln is back to work on Saturday as it will host Flushing, a team it is determined not to sleep on because the first rule of getting back to Yankee Stadium is not talk about playing at Yankee Stadium.
“They are a good team,” Puryear said of Flushing. “We’re focused on them, we’re not thinking about Yankee Stadium yet. We’re just focused on next week’s game.”