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Dynamic Grand Street beats Clinton to reach semifinals

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Grand Street continues its historic playoff run, and is now just one win away from playing for a championship at Yankee Stadium.

The No. 5-seed Wolves used a big play from returning quarterback Justin White and defensive back Justin Phillip to beat No. 4 and host DeWitt Clinton 28–8 in the Public School Athletic League City Conference football quarterfinals last Saturday afternoon.

Grand Street, which has won eight-straight games, reaches the semifinals for the first time in program history.

“We are just rolling,” said Grand Street coach Bruce Eugene. “Everybody said Fort Hamilton is the hottest team going. I just feel right now, my team is confident and we’re just rolling.”

White, who missed last week recovering from a concussion, made sure to keep the roll going. He completed eight of 12 passes for 188 yards and three touchdowns. White opened the scoring with a 80-yard touchdown pass to Kimani Talbot in the first quarter, and tossed a back-breaking 48-yard scoring pass on third and long to Taysir Mack to give Grand Street a 20–8 lead with 5:51 to go in the third quarter. His 10-yard scramble on fourth down also kept a scoring drive alive in the second quarter that resulted in a 15-yard touchdown pass to Romilio Littlejohn.

“He’s the trigger man,” Eugene said. “He’s the guy everybody on this team looks to, and we’re all comfortable with him back there.”

Eugene got on White for not getting an open Mack the ball. On the next play White scrambled in the pocket to get free enough to deliver a pass to Mack. The junior shook a defender along the left sideline and ran the final 15-yards for a the score.

“The matchup was good,” White said. “[The defender] was playing off we had to take a shot.”

The offense for Clinton (9–2) didn’t have as much luck outside of a 20-yard touchdown pass from DaShown Wilson Jr. to Chesley Carter to cut the Grand Street (11–1) lead to 14–8 with 1:23 to go in the first half. The Governors, with help from some Grand Street penalties, appeared ready to answer to Mack’s touchdown in the third quarter. Philip made one of the game’s biggest plays to ensure it didn’t happen.

He scooped up a Clinton fumble from a pile of players and returned it 76-yards for a touchdown to help give Grand Street a 28–6 lead late in the third quarter. On the next play from scrimmage, he intercepted Wilson Jr.

Philip didn’t want to call the scoop and score the biggest of his carrier, but said it was up there.

“I saw the ball on the floor and picked it up and ran,” he said. “It was a very big play. The play came and I took the opportunity to put it in the end zone.”

It helped put Grand Street in position to avenge its only regular season loss when it visits No. 2 and defending champion Abraham Lincoln on Nov. 29 at 12 pm. The Wolves celebrated with fans that made the trip to Clinton, but understood there is plenty of work to be done if Grand Street is going to bring home a championship.

“Our main goal it Yankees Stadium,” Philip said. “We’ve said it since the beginning of the year — ‘Chip or bust’ — so this is another chapter in the story.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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