Lincoln shows it can win with defense too

Thomas Holley, who is the best player in New York City that is still uncommitted, during one of his three sacks. Photo by Rob Abruzzese.

Thomas Holley, who is the best player in New York City that is still uncommitted, during one of his three sacks. Photo by Rob Abruzzese.

During the first two games of the season the Lincoln Railsplitters weren’t so concerned with defense as they clobbered Curtis 42-6 and then beat Sheepshead Bay 44-8. 14 points allowed is impressive, but who cares when they scored 86.

It looked like they were on their way to another blowout as they led Tottenville 20-0 at halftime. Heck, the Pirates were lucky to have intercepted a ball in the end zone as the score easily could have been 28-0 at halftime. But then something happened that hadn’t happened all season to that point — the Railsplitters offense started sputtering.

That’s when Thomas Holley, Khendell Puryear and the rest of the Railsplitters defense stepped up and shut Tottenville down en route to a 26-7 victory on Friday night.

“That defense showed that they can play also,” Lincoln’s coach Shawn O’Connor said after the game. “Our offense has done a really great job and taking teams out of their element real fast. Today, they stopped our offense a little in the second half and our defense clamped down.”

Tottenville actually came out strong in the second half, not just defensively, but offensively as well as it looked to grab momentum. The Pirates struck first in the second half as quarterback Joshua Rainey led a drive that ended in him keeping it for a six-yard touchdown run.

That’s as far as they would get though as Puryear cut another drive short with an interception. Holley also stepped up with three sacks all in the second half. The biggest play would come from Antoine Holloman, who had three touchdowns as the running back, but his big play wasn’t on offense. Instead, Holloman did a spectacular job catching up with a back who appeared on his way for the end zone for a beautiful open field tackle.

“I just didn’t want them to score there,” Holloman said afterward. “If they scored, that would change the entire game. I had to hustle down and stop him. I trust my team to keep them at the goal line.”

Not only did Holloman keep Tottenville from scoring on the play, but the goal-line defense kept them from scoring on ensuing plays as well.

“The only thing I have to say is incredible,” said Holloman. “I have to give it to the defense.”

Of course, the offense was big in this game too as it helped to establish an early lead that would allow the defense to take over in the first place.

Holloman was the big weapon as he ran 22 times for 129 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Javon Moore was also lethal for Lincoln as he passed for 190 yards and ran for 45 yards and a touchdown. His favorite targets were Malik Andrews, who had five catches for 95 yards receiving, and Carlos Stewart, who had three catches for 73 yards.

The win was a big one for Lincoln as Tottenville was the same team that eliminated it from the playoffs last season. However, after the game the coaches and players didn’t see it that way. To them, this is an entirely different team and different season with much still left unproven.

“We didn’t want last year to make us come out here and play down to them,” Holloman explained. “We had to come back out here and prove ourselves again because this is a new team this year.¬†We’re a new team. Twenty-thirteen, it’s a new journey and a new chapter for us.”

“We don’t talk about last year,” O’Connor added. “This year is this year and it’s a different team. They just wanted to prove that they can be on the road and keep it going.”

Lincoln improved to 3-0 on the season with the victory. The Brooklyn Eagle currently has it ranked as the No. 2 team in Brooklyn and the big matchup circled on the calendar is on Oct. 18 when Lincoln faces Erasmus Hall. That game very well could decide who the best team in the borough and city is during the regular season.

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