Eleventh-seeded Brooklyn Tech stunned No. 6 seed Thomas Jefferson 30-28 in double-overtime thriller in the first round of the PSAL playoffs at Moe Finkelstein Field in Brooklyn.
HOW THE GAME WAS WON: Brooklyn Tech (6-4) had a dominating running game and made fewer mistakes than Thomas Jefferson (7-3). The Engineers also capitalized when the Orange Wave faltered. James Gales and Gino Nadela combined for more than 200 rushing yards. And although Kevi Shyti was only 3-for-8 for 79 passing yards, he didn't throw any interceptions, while Al Amin Stewart Jr. tossed three picks during his 173-yard performance.
But the Engineers had to hang on for the win. With less than a minute to play and down 14-8, the Orange Wave stormed 68 yards for a score. Their final drive in regulation culminated in Stewart's 10-yard touchdown pass to William Noble with less than 10 seconds remaining. Back-to-back penalties pushed Thomas Jefferson further away from the end zone during the 2-point conversion, and the team failed to connect on a pass to Noble, sending the matchup into overtime.
"I think what happens is in a game like this when there are so many plays, we have guys that are gassed," Brooklyn Tech coach Kyle McKenna said of his team's inability to halt Thomas Jefferson at the end of regulation. "Everybody was tired on both sides of the ball. ... A misstep here, a misstep there, and the fatigue makes for a lot of messiness."
Both teams scored and made the conversions in the first overtime, and Thomas Jefferson went on top 28-22 after an 11-yard touchdown run by Neville Alexander. The Engineers' situation looked bleak when they were backed up 17 yards on fourth down, but Babatunde Adeyemi brought in a 21-yard pass to make it first and goal. On the ensuing play, James Gales ran 6 yards for the touchdown and notched the 2-point conversion for the win.
"The story of this game and the flow of it was so manic that you really didn't know what was going to happen from one second to the next," McKenna concluded. "You just wanted to make sure you were ready for whatever was coming."
TURNING POINT: In double overtime, when the Engineers had tied the score at 28, they were initially stopped short on the conversion; however, a face-mask penalty would breathe new life into Brooklyn Tech. The Engineers were pushed to the 2-yard line, and with another shot for the win, Gales capitalized.
STAR OF THE GAME: Gales, the sophomore standout, notched two rushing touchdowns and three conversions, during his 124-yard performance against the Orange Wave. Not only did he tie the score at 28, his 2-point conversion gave Brooklyn Tech the upset victory.
"I just knew if our offensive line did what they were supposed to do, and I got the ball, there was no question it was going to go in the end zone," Gales said after the win. "No matter what happened, the ball was going to cross the plane."
Biggest Surprise: Brooklyn Tech was the underdog heading into the meeting. Not only were the Engineers the lower seed and entered the playoffs on a two-game losing streak, but when the two teams met on Oct. 2, the Orange Wave won 40-38. However, Gales never thought his team had a chance to lose.
"We knew for a fact that this team could not beat us," Gales stated. "I don't want to disrespect the team, but the last time we played them, it really was a fluke. We could've easily won. So coming into this game, we were very confident. We knew if we did everything right, no turnovers no nothing, we were going to come out with a win."
NEXT WEEK: Brooklyn Tech will travel to No. 2 Fort Hamilton for a quarterfinals matchup Saturday at Noon.