Fort Hamilton is still in search of a signature win.
For the second-straight time the Tigers led one of the Public School Athletic League’s top teams in the fourth quarter only to see victory slip away. Two fumbles and two Tottenville touchdowns on fourth down erased a four-point lead and handed the visiting Tigers a 33–24 defeat on a night filled with heavy rain and steady winds last Friday.
“That’s the difference in the ball game,” Fort Hamilton coach Danny Perez said.
Fort Hamilton (3–2), which lost on the final play to Grand Street in Week Two, grabbed a 24–20 lead over Tottenville (5–0), with a one-yard quarterback keeper by Connor Fitzsimons on the final play of the third quarter. It capped a 90-yard drive that saw a big 25-yard grab by Seba Nekhet and 28-yard dash from running back Troy Booker to set up the score.
Booker rushed for 180 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. He also caught a 34-yard pass from Fitzsimons for a score. Noah Selano added a touchdown run, but the Tigers rode Booker in the rains.
“In weather like this, you definitely want to feed the rock to him,” Perez said. “That was the plan.”
Fort Hamilton couldn’t build on its momentum despite multiple chances. The Tigers, which did not succeed at any two-point conversions, struggled to move the ball on offense after its 90-yard touchdown drive because the Pirates beefed up the defensive line by adding Domenico Abbadessa into the mix.
As Fort Hamilton sputtered, Tottenville scored twice on fourth-down plays in the final quarter. Booker said the players weren’t on the same page at key points, allowing the game-turning plays.
“A lot of it has to do with communication.” Booker said. “I feel we didn’t have as much communication as we practice.”
Tottenville quarterback Peter Calabrese connected on fourth and one with Jesse Brambel with 9:48 left in the game to put his squad up 26–24. Fort Hamilton was able to stop the Pirates after fumbling away the ensuing kickoff, but saw Booker stopped for a loss on third and one on its next drive.
The Tigers had a chance for one more possession on down three, but Calabrese hit Jeffrey Matthews on fourth and 11 for a 40-yard score over the middle to make it 33–24 and put the game away. Brambel scored three touchdowns, recovered one of Fort Hamilton’s four fumbles and recorded an interception.
“We were able to do the things that we do,” Pirates coach Jim Munson said. “We ran it when we had to run it. Peter threw it when he had to throw it. We made plays.”
Fort Hamilton knows if it is going to beat one of the league’s top teams it needs to be the squad making things happen in the closing minutes. It missed another opportunity to do so.
“We just have to finish,” Booker said. “We just have to come out and we have to finish. I feel like we had them in the first half. We came out in the second half a little cocky, but we will work with that the rest of the season.”
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