It’s the case of the old adage: Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.
Erasmus Hall leaned on its offensive power to secure it a first-round win in the Public School Athletic League City Conference, but it had to rely on its defense to get to the semifinals. The sixth-seeded Dutchmen forced and recovered three fumbles and collected an interception in the team’s 10–0 victory over host and No. 3 South Shore in quarterfinals play on Nov. 21.
Both teams’ defenses kept the game knotted until the Dutchmen struck late in the second quarter.
Quarterback Aaron Grant lofted a perfectly placed 40-yard pass to 6-foot-2 sophomore receiver Sean Ryan on South Shore’s 10-yard line. Moments later, Grant found fellow senior Daevon Alvarez in the end zone to help put E-Hall (9–3) up 8–0 after a successful two-point conversion.
The one score was all the more daunting for unbeaten South Shore (10–1), because junior quarterback Jason Martin injured his knee on a read-option play on the team’s second possession. Martin continued to play, but was hobbled, leaving the Vikings offense struggling. The weak bounce-back led to division among the ranks, and players were embroiled in a shouting match heading into the locker room at half.
The Vikings planned on using Martin’s legs to move the ball, but instead, the team had to explore other options leaving the team in a bind, the squad’s head coach said.
“When your best offensive weapon is hobbling around — especially your QB — it’s going to be difficult,” Matt Ciquera said.
The Dutchman continued to capitalize on Vikings mistakes. The team turned a fumbled snap into a safety to improve its lead to 10–0.
The Viking’s best drive — and chance to cut the deficit late in the fourth quarter ended with Omar Jarrett fumbling at the Erasmus 10-yard line after a 15-yard gain.
Erasmus, the city runner-up a year ago, won its first playoff game 43-26. The team travels to No. 5 Fort Hamilton at noon on Nov. 28 with a trip to the final at Yankee Stadium on the line.
Grand Street 20, Susan Wagner 6: Sharif Harris-Legree threw for 213 yards and three touchdowns for Grand Street (11–0), including a 30-yard strike to Ahmed Bah in the first quarter. The two hooked up again for a 56-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Kareem Davis ran for 112 yards and caught a 16-yard touchdown to put Grand Street up 20–6 at the break. The Wolves earned a second-straight trip to the semifinals and host No. 10 Curtis at noon on Nov. 28.
Franklin D. Roosevelt 26, James Madison 20: Quarterback Nadir Hassan carried the ball 16 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns for defending champions and No. 6-seeded Franklin D. Roosevelt (9–3) in the Bowl Conference quarterfinals. The Cougars trailed 20–6 after three quarters before ripping off 20 points in the final frame. Rashaun Coleman ran for 76 yards and a score on 11 carries, and Russell Bourne added a rushing touchdown. ReJohn Williams made a team-leading seven tackles. The Cougars move on to visit No. 1 McKee-Staten Island Tech in the semifinals at noon on Nov. 28.
Eagle Academy II 30, East Harlem Pride 6: Ramell Redd ran for 220 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries for defending champion and second-seeded Eagle Academy II (12–0) in the Cup Conference semifinals. Jamal Trotman added 101 yards and a score on 10 carries and made 10 tackles on defense. Jean Louis recovered a fumble. The Eagles squad will defend its title against No. 1 Frederick Douglass in the final on Nov. 28 at 7 pm at MCU Park.