‘Thunder’ and ‘Lightning’ lead Grand Street over Brooklyn Tech
Justin “Lefty” White is one of the best quarterbacks in New York City, so there was no doubt that Grand Street Campus was vulnerable without him as the team headed into the first round of the Public School Athletic League playoffs.
Grand Street’s head coach Bruce Eugene turned to his running backs Rahmel Ashby and Eugene Qualls, nicknamed Thunder and Lightning, and told them that it was up to them to lead the Wolves to victory against Brooklyn Tech.
Thunder and Lightning came through. Ashby finished with 120 yards rushing and three touchdowns, and Qualls added 73 yards and a fourth during Grand Street Campus’ 26-0 victory over Brooklyn Tech in Williamsburg on Saturday.
“They’re both great athletes,” senior defensive back Edwin Lee said of Ashby and Qualls. “They’re like lightning and thunder back there. Eugene is amazingly strong and Rahmel is amazingly quick. With the two of them both back there, I don’t know who can stop us.”
Without White, Grand Street had Ashby and Qualls both taking snaps along with backup quarterback sophomore Mateo Gil. Ashby took the majority of the snaps during the first drive of the game, and it paid off, as he finished the drive with an 18-yard touchdown run that put Grand Street up 6-0 in the first three minutes of the game.
Brian Gill and Tech’s defense slowed Grand Street on its next drive, but it was only four minutes later when the Wolves found the back of the end zone again. This time, it was Qualls on a four-yard run that made it 12-0.
Brooklyn Tech had a great opportunity to score before the half ended, and got as far as the 11 on a drive. However, the Engineers were also without their starting quarterback, Elijah Rueda, so head coach Kyle McKenna elected for a field goal attempt on fourth down. The play backfired as it was blocked, which killed the momentum Tech had built up.
In the third quarter, Grand Street struck again when Ashby ran for a 19-yard touchdown that made it 18-0. That play ended up being the turning point, as Grand Street recovered the kickoff afterward and quickly made it 26-0, when Ashby scored again on a 36-yard run.
After the game, Ashby denied that there was extra pressure put on him, and Qualls and noted that everyone had to step up. “Since Lefty wasn’t playing, everyone knew they had to step up and everyone did. Our O-line was amazing today, Mateo did a great job, and our defense put up a donut,” he said.
The win was the first playoff victory ever for Grand Street in the PSAL City Conference. It was also the first-ever playoff victory for head coach Bruce Eugene, and it came against a team he used to coach.
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Fort Hamilton continued its hot play by beating New Utrecht, which was without its quarterback Angelo Carrera, 28-6 in Bay Ridge on Saturday. Sophomore Troy Booker led the team with 200 total yards and two touchdowns, Michael Brooks also had a touchdown, and Connor Fitzsimons threw a touchdown pass to Seba Nekhet.
South Shore once again fell to Flushing 34-14 in Queens on Saturday. The Vikings finished their first season in the City Conference with a 7-4 record. They should continue to compete next season behind sophomore quarterback Jason Martin.
In the final City Conference playoff game, Curtis beat Canarsie 24-6 in Staten Island on Saturday. Andre Ridley led Curtis with 101 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Round two’s matchups include Fort Hamilton at Erasmus Hall, Flushing at Lincoln, Curtis at Tottenville and Grand Street at Clinton.
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All three Brooklyn teams lost in the Bowl Conference: Grady lost 34-20 to FDR, Madison lost to Bayside 26-6 and Lafayette lost to Columbus 28-12. Eagle Academy advanced in the Cup Conference after beating East Harlem 28-14. The team will face Stevenson in the semifinals next week.
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