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Andrew Vital has mastered the art of deception. The Lincoln quarterback does his best Houdini impression every time the play “Veer” is called. Tailback Doug Butler runs up the gut and Vital has the option of handing off to him or faking it and carrying it himself.
Grand Street Campus players weren’t the only ones fooled Sunday.
“The referees told me they almost blew the whistle three times thinking Doug had the ball and was stopped,” Lincoln coach Shawn O’Connor said.
Vital used the play to gallop for a 56-yard touchdown %u2013 one of his three scores %u2013 in the second quarter and finished with 184 yards on 12 carries to lead Lincoln to a 28-6 win against Grand Street Campus at Lafayette HS in PSAL City Championship division football.
“Sometimes I am [fooled], too,” Butler said with a laugh. “I thought I was getting the ball one of those times.”
Butler rushed for 135 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown as Lincoln (4-2) racked up 338 yards on the ground. Grand Street (2-4) scored first, on a 55-yard run by Lincoln Jacobs on the game’s second play from scrimmage, but would not reach the end zone again.
The Railsplitters were motivated after a heartbreaking loss to Susan Wagner last week. They had a fourth-quarter lead, but let it slip. During halftime Sunday, O’Connor made sure to tell his team that the game, despite the 22-6 score, was not over.
“The second half, we wanted to make sure we came out and finished it,” O’Connor said.
Vital, Butler, a dominant offensive line and a stingy defense allowed Lincoln to do that. Grand Street Campus coach Ed Gazzillo said his team practiced for Lincoln’s deceptive offensive sets, but for naught.
“You can’t match that game speed,” he said.
Vital and Butler were hardly proven commodities at the start of the season. Vital is a first-year signal caller and has emerged as one of the top running quarterbacks in the PSAL. Butler wasn’t the starter at running back in Week 1, but had a big game in an overtime win over Canarsie in Week 2, and hasn’t looked back since.
“We always knew he had it in him,” O’Connor said.
Vital said he and Butler had been working hard on that Veer play since spring workouts, but the running back conceded that some of its effectiveness is due to innate chemistry between the two. In a 16-12 win against Flushing in Week 3, referees, thinking Butler had the ball in a pile, did actually blow the whistle when Vital appeared en route to a touchdown.
“It’s just natural,” Butler said.
The defense had been a strength all season, led by linemen Ishaq Williams and Wayne Williams, but it broke down somehwat last week, giving up 36 points to Susan Wagner.
“We wanted to get a shutout today,” said Butler, who also plays defensive back.
That didn’t happen, but it doesn’t matter. O’Connor said he feels his team is “growing up.” With a matchup against city title favorite Fort Hamilton looming next week, the Railsplitters will certainly need to be at their peak.
“We’re back on track,” Butler said. “This game got us into the playoffs.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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