By Dylan Butler
Shane Smith had energized a young and lethargic August Martin offense with some spectacular acrobatic catches, the kind that make their way onto highlight reels. So with seven seconds left in the fourth quarter Friday night at Tottenville and the potential game-tying touchdown 23 yards away, Falcons quarterback Jason Boyce thought why not? Why not look for Smith, the junior wide receiver just one more time.
Boyce dropped back and spotted Smith, who somehow got behind the Pirates’ defense. The pass was on as Smith lunged up, but the ball escaped his grasp, sailing through the end zone as Tottenville escaped with a 14-6 win.
“It was right there,” said Smith, who had four receptions for 61 yards. “I looked it all the way through, but it just bounced off of my fingertips.”
The incomplete pass in the end zone ended what was a fantastic final desperate drive for Martin (0-2). With just :33 seconds left and without a time-out, the Falcons started the drive on their own 36-yard line. Boyce found Smith, who then lateraled to senior running back Anthony Pittman. The old hook-and-ladder play was good for a 25-yard gain. After Boyce downed the ball, stopping the clock at :18 seconds, Boyce found Pittman, who rumbled for a 16-yard gain before getting out of bounds at the Tottenville 23-yard-line. But the Falcons dramatic drive was cut short a play later as Boyce’s pass went through Smith’s hands.
“Shane was my go-to guy,” said Boyce, who was 5-for-13 for 93 yards. “I saw him open and threw it there, but it just went through his hands. There’s nothing you can do about it. I have a lot of confidence in him.”
August Martin’s play in the second half, especially that of the offensive line, was markedly better than in the first half. After Boyce was sacked twice in the first half, the quarterback had a lot more time to maneuver in the second half, providing precious extra seconds to be able to find the likes of Smith and Pittman.
“We’re very young, most of the guys are sophomores and juniors,” Boyce said. “We’re going to develop and learn from our mistakes.”
According to Pittman, the biggest lesson to be learned from this loss is to play consistent football.
“We should have been doing that all game,” said Pittman, who had 13 carries and one reception for a total of 87 yards. “We should have been giving that kind of intensity all game.”
Despite the Pirates dominance of the clock with long, lengthy drives, the Falcons defense was solid throughout. Tottenville (1-1) scored the game’s first touchdown with 4:58 left in the first half on a five-yard quarterback keeper by Louie Curcio. Mike McShane, who set up the score with a 32-yard burst up the middle, was stopped on the two-point conversion.
The score remained 6-0 until the beginning of the fourth quarter when Curcio, who was 7-for-19 for 68 yards and rushed 13 times for 25 yards, was picked off by Trevor Shamble. The Martin senior returned the interception 60 yards to tie the score at 6-6 with 11:15 left.
“I saw their quarterback drop back and I stepped into the flat and I was right there, bingo,” Shamble said.
It appeared momentum had shifted in Martin’s direction, but Tottenville took it right back as Diego O’Quendo received the ensuing kickoff at the Pirates 15 and ran it back 65 yards to the Martin 20. Three plays later, Curcio connected with a wide open Alec Entzmiger for an 18-yard touchdown pass. Curcio’s quarterback sneak on the two-point conversion put the Pirates ahead 14-6 with 8:29 left in the fourth quarter.
Tottenville looked like it may run out the clock on its next possession, as it shaved 4:08 off the clock with three first-downs, including one on a very generous spot by the officials. But when Curcio fumbled on fourth-and-2 from the Falcons 18 and a personal foul was whistled against Tottenville, Martin was set for its final drive. A drive that came oh so close.
Erasmus Hall 30, John Adams 24. Quarterback Joe Martinez had eight carries for 130 yards and two touchdowns and Noel Francis had eight carries for 102 yards and a pair of 25-yard touchdown runs as Erasmus snaps an 18-game losing streak that dated back to Halloween 1998. The Spartans, who fall to 1-1, host George Washington Saturday at 11 a.m. in their first home game in three years.
Beach Channel 44, Springfield Gardens 6. Ricky Richardson and Ben Nieves each rushed for two touchdowns to lead Beach Channel (2-0) in the rout. Kevin Jamison also scored on a two-yard run and Rob Deutchman scored on a 25-yard interception. Springfield (0-2) plays at New Dorp Saturday at 2 p.m.
Grand Street Campus 32, Flushing 8. Jason Sistruck rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Jack Medici was 11-for-13 for 112 yards in the first win ever for Grand Street Campus, a first-year program. The Red Devils (0-2) host Erasmus Hall at Flushing Memorial Field Saturday at 11 a.m.
George Washington 8, Bryant 0. Rahem Fermin scored the game’s lone touchdown and rushed for 100 yards and Winston Okeroke had five tackles and a key interception at the end of the game to preserve GW’s second straight shutout. Bryant (0-2) hosts Truman at Flushing Memorial Field Saturday at 2 p.m.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.