Grand Street Campus had a lead with a little over two minutes to play, but the Lincoln Railsplitters had one last big play up their sleeves and managed to pull off the comeback to beat the Wolves 21-18 under the lights at Aviator on Friday night.
HOW IT HAPPENED: Both teams came out firing as Grand Street struck first and took a 6-0 lead when Eugene Qualls scored on a nine-yard touchdown run just one minute into the game.
Lincoln came back on its next drive, though, as Luis Rodriguez ran in a short, one-yard touchdown to tie the game at 6-6 midway through the first quarter. Two minutes later,
Grand Street found the end zone again when Justin White, aka Lefty, hit Taysir Mack with a 35-yard pass followed up by a nine-yard touchdown pass to make it 12-6 with 4:35 still left to play in the first quarter.
Things slowed down after that as both defenses finally established themselves and the score remained 12-6 through halftime. Lincoln scored first in the second half when backup quarterback Roget O’Neill ran for 10 yards and a touchdown to go up 13-12.
TURNING POINT: Lincoln’s lead was slim, just one point, and it held onto it very briefly as it didn’t even last five minutes. Early in the fourth quarter, Lefty hit Taysir Mack, again, for a five-yard touchdown pass that put the Wolves up 18-13 with just over eight minutes to play.
Time was running out for the Railsplitters and it appeared that Grand Street caught a big break when it got a good bounce on a punt that left Lincoln with the ball at the five-yard-line with just over two minutes to play. The Railsplitters quickly got the ball to their own 25-yard-line and then Luis Rodriguez took them the rest of the way as Paul Litvak hit him with a 75-yard pass that put Lincoln up 21-18 with just 2:05 left to play.
HARD-HITTING: Grand Street had one final drive to make something happen, but Lincoln’s Jordan Nicholson had an amazing defensive series as he tackled Grand Streets Rahmel Ashby for a loss and then tipped back-to-back passes from Lefty to force a turnover on downs with 41 seconds remaining.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: The Railsplitters had averaged more than 40 points per game in their first three games of the season, but struggled to score in this game. Lincoln coach Shawn O’Connor kept trying different things, but Grand Street did a good job shutting down Litvak and the passing game. The only player that could consistently move the ball all game long was Luis Rodriguez, who also happened to put the game away in the fourth quarter. With 108 yards catching, 61 yards rushing and two touchdowns, Rodriguez was easily the player of the game.
WHAT THIS MEANS: Lincoln still reigns supreme. They’re still undefeated and hold a 17-game winning streak that goes back to November 2012. Grand Street made a pretty huge statement with this win, though, as the close loss showed that they are well qualified to play a big game against the top team in the city. Its head coach Bruce Eugene said that he plans on playing Lincoln twice this year and it’s hard not to believe him.
UP NEXT: The Railsplitters have another huge game coming up as they head to Sid Luckman Field to take on Erasmus Hall next Sunday. Grand Street will also play another tough one as it will take on New Utrecht in The Cage on Friday.