Kahlil Lewin is the future of Erasmus Hall football. But on Saturday, when star running back Shaquell Jackson went down with a thigh injury in the third quarter and quarterback Wayne Morgan missed a few plays with cramps, the sophomore knew the future had to be now.
“He got hurt and I’m the backup, I am my brother’s keeper and I was next,” Lewin said. “It was my time to shine.”
No one shined brighter. Lewin scored a remarkable 15-yard touchdown in overtime to lift Erasmus Hall to a 20-17 win against Tottenville in the PSAL Championship division semifinals in Huguenot.
The win sends the Dutchmen to the city title game at Yankee Stadium where they will play Brooklyn rival Lincoln, which defeated Clinton, 30-14, in the other semifinal.
“It’s the happiest I’ve ever been in my life,” Lewin said.
The diminutive sophomore had 10 carries for 107 yards – all after halftime.
“Kahlil Lewin has arrived,” Erasmus Hall coach Danny Landberg said. “He’s a football player.”
Tottenville (10-2) jumped in front, 17-14, on its first possession of overtime on a 34-yard field goal by Ben Bifalco, who nearly won the game in regulation but his 43-yard attempt fell just three yards short.
“I thought we played ridiculous defense the entire day against a quality team,” Tottenville coach Jim Munson said. “I figured I’d put my defense on the field with a three-point lead and see where it goes.”
Lewin ran for five yards on first down and then embarked on a stunning run down the Erasmus sideline for a 15-yard touchdown.
“My line down blocked, I made my read, I was stumbling but I kept going,” Lewin said. “I was surprised. All you need is heart. I believed in myself.”
What was most remarkable what that Lewin appeared to be wrapped up at the 11-yard line, but he somehow eluded about four tacklers, all the while dancing along the sideline until he emerged from the sea of Tottenville players to score one of the biggest touchdowns in Erasmus Hall history.
“He’s been like that all year long,” Landberg said. “He’s so compact. He reminds me of [former Giants running back] Joe Morris, the same exact size as him. He’s still only a baby. We know what his capabilities are and we have no fear of giving him the ball. He can be that spectacular.”
So can Morgan, who 19 carries for 54 yards and was 5-of-6 for 40 yards in the air. The highly touted senior tied the game at 14 with a 1-yard touchdown run, but he was stopped by senior Jim Munson, the coach’s son, on the all-important 2-point conversion with 5:52 left in the fourth quarter.
Jackson had 13 carries for 62 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown with 1:26 left in the second quarter. It was a critical score because it came just after Tottenville standout Alvin Cornelius put the Pirates in front, 14-0, on a 7-yard run.
The Syracuse-bound Cornelius (17 carries for 95 yards) also connected with Austen Moccia for a 13-yard touchdown earlier in the second quarter.
“We let them back,” Munson said. “At 14-0, they made a couple of good drives, we missed some tackles and had a penalty. That was indicative of what the first game was like.”
In the first game, Erasmus Hall (9-3) shocked Tottenville, 14-13, handing the Pirates their first loss at Sid Luckman Field in Week 4.
On Saturday, the Dutchmen proved that win was no fluke.
“It’s the biggest win in the history of Erasmus Hall,” Lewin said.
And it’s thanks to a special second effort by a special sophomore.
“I challenged him at practice,” Landberg said. “I said you’re tomorrow’s guy, but I need you to be tomorrow today.”
Contact Dylan Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org
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