Malique Belfort noticed a difference in Augustus Edwards at practice this week after gaining just 18 yards in a Week 1 win over Fort Hamilton.
“All week in practice he was down on himself from his performance against Fort Hamilton,” the Tottenville wide receiver said. “Everybody’s been coming at him, telling him that he’s a bust and [Kahlil Lewin] from Erasmus is a better running back. I think my running back is the best running back.”
Edwards backed up Belfort’s claim Friday night, rushing for three touchdowns to lead the Pirates to a thrilling 29-28 come-from-behind overtime win over defending PSAL champion Lincoln Friday night in Coney Island.
The Syracuse-bound running back had 27 carries for 188 yards and scored the tying 8-yard touchdown in overtime. Chris McCormick won the game for Tottenville (2-0) with the extra point as the Pirates rallied from a 22-6 deficit early in the fourth quarter.
“It was a big deficit we came back from. Everyone just kept confidence, kept faith and we just pulled out the win,” Edwards said. “We knew we could do it and we just kept that mindset and got it done.”
One of the most highly anticipated PSAL regular season games in years lived up to the advanced hype as the city’s top two ranked teams waged war in an epic battle live on MSG Varsity.
“They’re good. And we had to keep battling,” Tottenville coach Jim Munson said. “[At] 22-6, it was not looking good. They were starting to dictate to us a bit, they were starting to push us around.”
Indeed, when Lincoln quarterback Javon Moore scored on a 4-yard keeper following a 62-yard interception return for a touchdown by Malik Darling, it looked like Railsplitters, ranked No. 2 in New York City by MSG Varsity, was well on their way to an 18th straight home win.
But Brandon Barnes connected with Belfort for a 62-yard TD on Tottenville’s next possession on 3rd-and-23, a score that the Pirates desperately needed.
“That pass was key because that kind of gave us a bit of momentum,” Munson said.
The Tottenville defense stopped Lincoln (1-1) on its next possession and the Pirates took over on their own 24 with 4:50 left in the fourth quarter. Eight players later, Edwards rushed for a 40-yard TD and Barnes found Belfort for the 2-point conversion to tie the score at 22 with 2:16 left in the fourth quarter.
Belfort, who was huge in a Week 1 win over Fort Hamilton with a pair of long touchdown receptions, had six receptions for 127 yards and one touchdown. He helped open things up for Edwards, who had a monster second half.
Moore connected with Jamiek Davis (five catches, 86 yards, two TDs) for a 12-yard score on Lincoln’s first overtime possession, but Richard Lam stopped Antoine Holloman (27 carries, 114 yards) on the 2-point conversion, opening the door for the Pirates.
“Stopping them on the two-point conversion was key because we’ve got the kicker,” Munson said.
Edwards made sure to take advance, rushing for 12 yards on three consecutive carries to the Lincoln 8-yard line and scoring on 3rd-and-goal to tie the score at 28. McCormick did the rest, though he got some big-time help from James Munson, the coach’s son who was able to corral a bad snap and place it down for the first-year kicker.
“This shows that we can play and we’ve got a lot of heart,” Edwards said. “We have a very good defense, a lot of guys who want to play and we refuse to lose. That’s something we’ve got to have as a team.”
The Pirates not only snapped the Railsplitters 17-game home winning streak, but also staked their claim as the favorites in the PSAL. Munson, though, wouldn’t bite.
“This is only Week 2. I will never allow us to get ahead of ourselves,” Munson said. “This is September. Nobody wins anything in September. Win or lose, we still have to play John Adams next week. We talk about laying bricks on the foundation. This was our second brick. That’s all it was.”
As for Lincoln, which suffered its first loss since the 2010 title game at Yankee Stadium, coach Shawn O’Connor believes his team will learn a lesson from a tough loss, lamenting the 93 yards of penalties.
“This is a character builder for us,” O’Connor said. “We didn’t prepare to win Week 2. This is certainly going to help us in Week 13 hopefully if we can get there. We faced a good team, it came down to one play. We had them on the ropes, but we have to learn how to finish things and the way to do that is by being disciplined.”