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Gutsy fourth-down call pushes Erasmus past Tottenville for season-opening win

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Having running backs Kahlil Lewin and Curtis Samuel on the field made it easy for Erasmus Hall coach Danny Landberg to go for it — even on fourth down and two with his team clinging to a one-point lead.

Instead of punting the ball from their own 36-yard line Landberg had the Ohio State-bound Samuel hand it off to Lewin late in the third quarter with the upmost confidence.

“Fourth and two, Lewin, Curtis why not take a shot?” Landberg said.

The Dutchmen got the first down and then some.

Lewin ended up running 64 yards up the right sideline for his second touchdown of the game for the defending city champions. It was the momentum-changing score for Erasmus in a 21–7 winning season opener against Tottenville in a rematch of last year’s Public School Athletic League City Conference title game at Sid Luckman Field last Saturday afternoon.

Tottenville coach Jim Munson applauded the fourth-down call — even though he may have chosen differently.

“I guess he has more balls than me,” Munson said of Landberg. “Maybe I’m punting the ball, but he has those backs and that’s what happens. At any time they can make something happen.”

That touchdown, which put Erasmus up 14–7, was part of a big day for Lewin. He feels he has something to prove after what he considered a subpar junior season — and with all the attention now surrounding Samuel. Lewin rushed for 104 yards on 11 carries, with Samuel being held to 62 yards of total offense, being used most times as a decoy.

“He motivates me to be better.” Lewin said.

Tottenville looked liked they would have one last chance to get back in the game. Backup quarterback Elijah Davis, in for the injured Daiquan Gwyn, fumbled the ball up the Tottenville 40 yard line late in the fourth quarter. Luckily for him, offensive lineman Kwanii Figueroa picked it up and ran it 32 yards down to the eight. It set up a scoring run by Davis on the next play to provide the final margin.

“We go over it all the time in practice, scope and score,” said Figueroa, who also plays defensive line. “I put my knuckles to the ground and scooped the ball up and just turned around and run.”

He and the Erasmus defense were superb after watching Tottenville march down and score on its opening drive. Pirates’ running back Andrew Russo rushed for 193 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, but the Dutchmen didn’t allow much else. Erasmus got two sacks from Tysene Foster and stopped a fake field goal early in the third quarter after the Dutchmen came out of halftime with an 8–7 lead.

The effort helped Erasmus to its 13th-straight win dating back to last season, but none of the players are looking to the past.

“We knew these guys were hungry coming in because we beat them in the championship game,” Davis said. “We still have the same hunger as if we lost.”

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewski@cnglocal.com. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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