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Susan Wagner runs wild, stuns Lehman to advance to PSAL FB 1/4s

By Charlie De Biase Jr. |

Susan Wagner just might have found something with its running game.

And now its going to the PSAL city conference quarterfinals.

The No. 12-seeded Falcons rode the rushing performances of running back James Morse and quarterback Derrick Edafe to a total of 330 yards as they stunned No. 5 Lehman 18-16 in a round-of-16 playoff tilt at Evander Childs HS in the Bronx.

Wagner (6-4) advances to the quarterfinals where it will meet top-seed and undefeated South Shore (9-0) in Brooklyn on Saturday (noon).

"I feel really good for the kids. We started getting ready for this season last November when the (2017) ended and (today’s win) is a testament of all the hard work and dedication we’ve put in over the last 12 months,'' said SW head coach Arthur Newcombe, who won his first playoff game as coach. "They were congratulating me, but I told them ... I didn’t get hit today, you did. And you deserve this win.''

"It’s a great feeling.''

The Falcons were able to do the damage they did behind the productive running of Morse (33 for 180, 2 TDs) and Edafe (17 for 150, TD). The latter was the starting QB for the second straight week with starting signal-caller Joseph Thorpe sidelined again because of a head injury.

SW went exclusively to its running game ... its lone pass attempt (an incompletion) was nullified because of a Lehman penalty ... and according to Newcombe, the motor behind the attack was his offensive line and two fullbacks. Newcombe had nothing but praise for left tackle Matt Rhodes, left guard Dylan Whyte, center Dwayne Chandler, right guard Daniel Vallario and right tackle Edin Capric, as well as fullbacks Avi Maryles and Christian Browne, for paving the way on Saturday.

"These guys played like men. They were locked in this week. Our QB was hurt again, but they did an amazing job stepping up and giving (Morse and Edafe) running room,'' said the head coach. "They’re a tight group that works well together.''

SW took a 12-0 lead thanks to a pair of second quarter TDs, including a 6-yard run by Morse (following 11 plays) and a 15-yard scamper by Edafe. The Lions showed signs of life when they returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown to make it 12-8, but Newcombe was happy to be on top at intermission.

"We ran 41 plays in the first half thanks to our dominant offensive line and I felt good even though we gave up that late score,'' said Newcombe. "We cleaned things up and were ready for the second half.''

The Falcons took an 18-8 lead thanks to a 20-yard TD run by Morse with 9:00 left in the game, but Lehman answered again, this time getting to within two points (18-16) with four minutes left in the game.

Although SW did a good job taking some time off the clock late, Lehman did get the ball back and marched for the go-ahead score. However, Edafe ... who still plays defense despite being the starting QB ... made a huge interception at the 50 with 2:29 to go.

Edafe later helped the Falcons get a first down on a fourth-and-1 play, thus putting the Falcons in victory formation over the remaining time.

SW’s Kahlil Williams forced a fumble that was recovered by Nick Rios while Whyte, who doubles as a defensive tackle, played an excellent game on the other side of the ball as well.

"Whyte was phenomenal ... he kept making plays,'' said the coach. "He didn’t come off the field, played all 48 minutes and played them well.''

NOTES: Lincoln (No. 6 seed) defeated J.F. Kennedy (No. 11), 48-0, and Canarsie (No. 10) downed Fort Hamilton (No. 7), 20-14. The PSAL reseeds for the quarterfinals with highest remaining playing lowest remaining, so the matchups are: SW at South Shore; Canarsie at No. 2 Erasmus; No. 9 Curtis at No. 3 Midwood; and Lincoln at No. 4 Tottenville.