Abraham Lincoln’s Malik Andrews watched in disbelief as the snap on Tottenville’s punt sailed high into the end zone before being kicked out of bounds by the punter for a safety.
“I was losing my mind,” Andrews, a receiver, said. “I was going crazy. We were down by one point, now we up by one point. It’s crazy how things happen.”
The safety was the difference for top-seeded and undefeated Lincoln in a 28–27 victory over No. 3 Tottenville in the Public School Athletic League football title game at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. It is the school’s second crown in the last three years.
“I guess there are a lot of different ways to win a game,” Lincoln coach Shawn O’Connor said.
Senior quarterback Javon Moore gave them the chance to. He threw two touchdowns and two interceptions after spraining his left ankle on his first run of the game. He called the pain “terrible” even before his right ankle cramped up in the second half
“I just fought it out,” Moore said. “I knew that my team needed me. I knew I had to make some plays.”
He completed 10 of 20 passes for 189 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown pass over the middle to Andrews with 6:57 to go in the game. It was the Railspiltters’ first points since the second quarter and got them within 27–26 with 6:57 left in the game before a failed two-point conversion.
“On a hurt leg I did it,” Moore said. “I’m proud of my guy Malik Andrews for being there.”
The play turned the momentum. Four plays later, Tottenville punter Salvatore Henrique kicked the ball out of bounds to give the Railsplitters a 28–27 lead with 4:43 remaining.
Tottenville drove one last time. Andrew Russo ran for a first down at the 18-yard line as it appeared time expired. The lone second remaining expired once the ball was brought back to the line of scrimmage allowing an initially confused Lincoln sideline to fully celebrate.
“I didn’t know what was going on until somebody tackled me on the ground,” O’Connor said.
Lincoln (13–0), which committed four turnovers, appeared headed for a lopsided victory after touchdown short runs by Antoine Holloman and Leroy Hancel in the first quarter.
Moore tossed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Carlos Stewart to make it 20–0 with 3:14 left to play before halftime. Holloman carried the ball 22 times for 102 yards.
Tottenville (10–3) answered by scoring 27 straight points over the second and third quarters, putting Lincoln behind for the first time all season. John Fischetti stripped Holloman and ran the fumble back 65-yards for score to cut the Lincoln lead to just 20–14 at the half.
The Pirates tied things at 20–20 when Joshua Rainey (seven of 27, 181 yards) connected with James Munson for his second touchdown pass of the game in the third quarter.
Tottenville had a fake field goal attempt fail late in the third quarter before going up 27–20 on a nine-yard Rainey scoring run with 8:21 to go in the game.
Lincoln refused to be fazed.
“Everybody stayed together,” defensive tackle Thomas Holley said.
They eventually got to celebrate together by doing so.
“It was real emotional,” Holley said. “I’m crying, everyone else is crying. To just know that you are a champion is the best feeling you can ever ask for.”