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Big-time play saves Railsplitters

Doug Butler struggled to gain yardage in the first half. The Lincoln running back was left frustrated by a swarming Flushing defense.

With one big play, those feelings were washed away.

Flushing had just gotten within two points after a blocked punt by Talbor Campbell and an Andrew King 3-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter. The Railsplitters needed a big play and Butler delivered on the next series with a 42-yard touchdown run, his second of the game, as time ran out in the third.

As a result, Lincoln held on for a 16-12 win against Flushing on Friday at Flushing Memorial Field in PSAL City Championship division football.

“We needed that bad,” Railsplitters coach Shawn O’Connor said of Butler’s play.

Butler finished with 122 yards on 18 carries with 85 of those yards coming after halftime. The senior rushed for a 20-yard touchdown in the first quarter to open up the scoring for Lincoln. He said he felt the need to break loose again after Flushing made it 8-6 with 1:34 left in the third.

“I just used my eyes and found my way into the end zone,” Butler said.

Flushing (2-1) hung around, though. Jordan Beranger and Deon Frazier led the Red Devils on a 91-yard scoring drive, capped by a King 1-yard touchdown run with 46 seconds left in the game. Frazier, who came in to spell Beranger at quarterback, hit Beranger for a 27-yard gain and three plays later King found pay dirt. But Lincoln (2-1) recovered an onside kick and ran out the clock.

“That didn’t lock things up,” O’Connor said of Butler’s run. “I didn’t think [Flushing] would die.”

His team has built confidence with a hard-fought loss to powerhouse Curtis in Week 1 and an overtime victory over Canarsie last week. Quarterback Andrew Vital has come into his own. He had 95 yards on 10 carries and was Lincoln’s offensive catalyst in the first half. He had a second-quarter touchdown pass to tight end Ishaq Williams called back when referees ruled it incomplete.

“He’s my leader,” Butler said of Vital.

The Railsplitters’ defense was dominant at times, led by defensive linemen Ishaq Williams and Wayne Williams (no relation) and linebacker Bertrand Jean. Flushing didn’t get its first second-half first down until that final drive.

Vital praised his offensive line and O’Connor loved the job fullback Rean Easterling did, especially on Butler’s long touchdown run. Lincoln moved the ball well on Flushing for most of the game, but had drives stall deep in the Red Devils’ end via penalties and turnovers. Jahleel Mozie picked off Vital at the goal line in the Railsplitters’ first possession of the second half.

Lincoln didn’t blow out Flushing %u2013 O’Connor said he wishes his team had more of a “blood in the water” mindset %u2013 but it didn’t matter. The Railsplitters will carry plenty of momentum into next week’s game against winless Columbus.

“We can depend on everyone as a unit,” Vital said. “We just need to stay together.”

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