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Fumbles, injuries help erase Erasmus

Danny Landberg had just one explanation for his team’s play in a 28-8 loss to Lincoln on Friday night.

“I think we choked,” the Erasmus Hall coach said.

In their first game against a top opponent since Curtis in Week 1, the Dutchmen (5-2) lost three big fumbles in the first half and had trouble snapping the ball the entire evening in the cold conditions at Aviator Complex in Brooklyn.

Quarterback Omari Matthews was stripped by Lincoln star Ishaq Williams at the Dutchmen 17-yard line to set up the Railsplitters’ first score. Erasmus promptly fumbled the ensuing kickoff and although Lincoln (7-0) didn’t score, it helped in the field-position game when the Dutchmen got the ball on their own 7. On their next possession, there was a bad snap on a punt in the end zone and Railsplitters linebacker Andrew Justice recovered for a touchdown.

Erasmus was down 16-0 at halftime and it could have even been worse. But the Dutchmen had a chance when star junior quarterback/safety Wayne Morgan took a punt return back 75 yards to the Lincoln 20-yard line and, six plays later, running back Shaquell Jackson scored from 1 yard out to make it 16-8 with 5:04 left in the third.

By that time, though, the Erasmus defense was already vulnerable and Lincoln put together a 10-play, 50-yard drive that took 4:59 off the block. Railsplitters running back Kerrick Simmons converted a big 4th-and-1 behind Lincoln’s massive line and quarterback Andrew Vital rushed for 18 yards on 3rd-and-7 and scored from 2 yards out two plays later.

“Their size was starting to wear us down,” Erasmus defensive coordinator Rosnel Dorsainvil said. “They’re a good ball club. Size matters.”

The Dutchmen were also playing without linebackers Luder Jean Louis (broken leg) and Tyquan Irons (broken ankle), who are both out for the year. Lincoln also played without All-American defensive end/tight end Ishaq Williams, who injured his shin in the second quarter.

Erasmus, ranked No. 6 in the city, is coming off its first PSAL semifinals appearance last year and some thought the Dutchmen would be even better this year with players like Morgan and Jackson, who have a bunch of BCS offers, a year older. But Landberg keeps reminding people that his team lost key linemen Jonathan Yearwood and Felix Small, who have been very difficult to replace.

The coach would have loved to insert them into the lineup in the third quarter with Erasmus down just one score.

“In this game momentum is everything,” Landberg said. “Whoever has momentum is gonna move the ball.”

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