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Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012: Erasmus Hall wins PSAL football championship

   Leading off today: Running back Curtis Samuel two-point conversion late in the third quarter stood up, giving Erasmus Hall a 15-14 win over Tottenville at Yankee Stadium for the PSAL football championship Tuesday.

   It was the first PSAL Championship Division title for Erasmus, which earned 'B' titles in 1986 and 1987.

   Samuel’s conversion came after quarterback Samerson Jonathan cut the deficit to 14-13 on a 3-yard carry with 2:07 left in the third quarter. Coach Danny Landberg opted to play for the lead rather than the tie, putting his faith in the running back he told The New York Daily News is the best player he's ever coached.

   “I felt like if Curtis can’t get two yards then he’s not the greatest player I ever coached,” Landberg said after Samuel finished with 20 carries for 117 yards. “And I just had faith in that situation.”

   Samuel caught three passes for 41 yards, including a 31-yard screen pass that set up a 6-yard TD run by Mathew Domina for a 7-0 first-quarter lead.

   “I had to make a big play for my team,” Samuel said. “This championship meant a lot for us, so I knew I had to make a big play. On the two-point conversion, I just saw the hole open and I just saw me and (Tottenville safety James Munson) head-to-head and I knew I could get over the top of him.”

   Final rankings: The PSAL contest was the state's season-ending playoff game. With that, the New York State Sportswriters Association has posted its final 2012 rankings.

   Emotional night at Shenendehowa: A large crowd and small but meaningful gestures marked a candlelight vigil Tuesday night at Shenendehowa's football stadium as friends remembered athletes Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers, killed over the weekend in a motor vehicle crash, and prayed for two injured friends.

   The gathering began with a surprise appearance by Matthew Hardy, who, along with Bailey Wind, remains hospitalized after Saturday's deadly crash Saturday caused by a motorist that authorities believe had been drinking. Wind was in critical condition and Hardy in fair condition at Albany Medical Center Hospital.

   Later in the evening, two Twitter campaigns (#TebowCallMatt and #MissyCallBailey) imploring football player Tim Tebow and Olympic swim champion Missy Franklin to reach out to Hardy and Wind succeeded. According to The Times Union, Tebow called Hardy around 9 p.m. and later tweeted, "Thanks to everyone who got #TebowCallMatt trending & helped connect us. Matt truly inspired me. God bless y'all."

   Franklin tweeted around midnight that she called Wind and left a voicemail message.

   "While the call from Tim Tebow provided a smile in an otherwise devastating situation, we would like to keep the attention focused on supporting the families of the students who passed," Hardy and his mother, Patricia, said in a statement. "Tonight is a time to come together as a community and celebrate the lives of Chris and Deanna."

   Wind's sister, a Shaker sophomore, wept as she read a message from her sister, lamenting drinking and driving and professing her love for Stewart. "(No.) 69 is mine forever," the letter stated. "Chris was the nicest and sweetest person I've ever met, and the same for Deanna."

   Also Tuesday, Athletic Director Christopher Culnan announced that Stewart's No. 69 football jersey and Rivers' No. 19 softball jersey would be retired, and that the district would start a scholarship in their memory. He also said support had poured in from other area school districts,

  

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likening it to a "giant hug."

   Veteran NYSSWA member Steve Grandin said the size of the gathering at Shen was larger than for any Section 2 football game he could recall in 30-plus years.

   In other news, charges are pending against Dennis Drue, 22, who state troopers said rear-ended Stewart's SUV while changing lanes. Saratoga County DA James Murphy said prosecutors are awaiting blood test results on Drue from the State Police crime lab. The paper reported that troopers said Drue failed an alcohol screening test at the scene and estimated that his vehicle's speed exceeded the speed limit.

   The paper reported Drue, a Siena College student, had his driver's license revoked from February 2009 to January 2010 after three speeding convictions within an 18-month period. The state DMV said he held a valid license at the time of the crash.

   Christ the King wins squeaker: Christ the King, a candidate to start at No. 1 when the NYSSWA begins its boys basketball rankings next week, opened Tuesday with a 71-70 win over Cardinal Hayes as guard Jon Severe scored 33 points.


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   The Royals were minus forward James Coleman, recovering from a meniscus injury suffered while playing football, but Chris Robinson chipped in with 20 points.

   Point guard Malik Harmon, saddled early with two fouls, finished with 11 points by sinking two free throws with :05.2 to go for Christ the KIng's only lead of the game.

   It's over: Da’Sean Downey had 16 points and seven rebounds as Woodlands downed defending state Class C champ Tuckahoe 60-53. It was Tuckahoe's first loss since March 12, 2011 in the NYSPHSAA Class C quarterfinals.

   Change at Burnt Hills: Gary Bynon has taken over as boys' basketball coach at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake after George Dudas stepped down because of unspecified health concerns. the school announced.

   AD Bob McGuire said former JV coach Gary Bynon has been named as the replacement on the bench. Burnt Hills opens Friday at Saratoga.

   Dudas, who has also coached at Mechanicville, Catholic Central and Averill Park, has led his teams to multiple sectional championships in basketball, boys soccer and girls soccer. He will continue to teach, McGuire said.

   "He has a lot on his plate. I told him you have got to do what you have got to do. Your health comes first," McGuire told The Times Union.

   Bynon is the Spartans' girls volleyball coach at Burnt Hills. His teams have won 11 straight Section 2 titles.


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