The Manitowoc Lincoln football team used two new running plays on its opening drives of the first and second halves in hopes of catching visiting Sheboygan South off guard and getting a first down. It got more than it bargained for.
Ships running back Ethan Just ran for scores of 56 and 66 yards on the plays, respectively, and Lincoln totaled 524 yards of offense, forced four turnovers and never trailed to earn the 54-40 homecoming win on Saturday afternoon at Ron Rubick Municipal Field.
“We put the plays in this week, and it was supposed to be ran outside, but there was a hole in the middle and I was able to beat the linebackers and I just ran down the sidelines,” Just said, adding that South ran an eight-men-in-the-box look and the Ships had been preparing all week to run to the outside. “This was a huge win. We have been worrying about this game all week and I’m just glad we came out with the win given all of the energy we put in to get ready for it.”
Just totaled 158 rushing yards on 12 attempts while adding another score on 17-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter from quarterback Nick Schroeder. Schroeder finished 16-of-28 for 279 yards and two touchdowns while also picking up 43 yards on six carries and a touchdown.
“It was an unusual game but a fun one. We needed the victory,” Lincoln head coach John Dixon said. “With South you never know (how the game will go). They have defended us very well the last couple of years and I was concerned with how their defense would defend us. We gave them some unscouted looks and that got us some momentum and got the kids to believe. The kids were disciplined.”
Both team’s entered the game, which lasted three hours and 10 minutes, needing a win to boost their chances of making the playoffs. Lincoln (3-3 Fox River Classic Conference), facing two road games to finish the season, got the momentum early with Just’s first score and was able to match South’s (2-4) scores in the first half.
South and Lincoln each scored touchdowns on their first three possessions, with the first Ships punt coming at 8:02 left in the second quarter and South’s at the 6:15 mark. The Ships carried a six-point lead into halftime as Lincoln kicker Joel Leifer made field goals from 22 and 31 yards out to make it 27-21.
“To be able to get the lead at halftime, it gives you something to talk about and something for the kids to bite into at halftime, that if we get a stop and get the ball back and score we are up by two scores,” Dixon said. “Our kids responded. … In the second half I told the kids we were not looking for the big play but looking to work the clock, get first downs and get points and we did that to some extent but we did have to come up with some big plays on third downs and the kids responded.”
In the second half, the Ships defense grabbed the early momentum by forcing a fumble on South’s opening drive to give Lincoln the ball and lead to Just’s second rushing touchdown to make it 33-21.
On the Redwings’ next drive Lincoln’s defense once again forced a fumble and the Ships’ rushers began to be more patient, bouncing runs to the outside and avoiding South’s stacked middle. Cameron Jaeger scored shortly before the end of the third quarter to make it 40-28 entering the final frame.
With eight minutes left in the game, Schroeder scored on an eight-yard run to give Lincoln what looked to be a commanding lead at 47-28. South looked poised to fight back, though, scoring on a one-yard run by quarterback Jake Knuth and recovering an onside kick shortly after.
As it had throughout the second half, though, the Lincoln defense again forced a turnover, this time with Alex Shimon stripping the ball and Chris Wittmus recovering to give the Ships possession.
With 59 seconds remaining, Shimon again forced a turnover and returned the interception 40 yards for the final score for the Ships, who will be at Pulaski (2-4 FRCC) on Friday and at De Pere (4-2 FRCC) the following Friday.
“They are two games that we could very easily win and very easily lose. We had our best week of practice this week, our best week of preparation, and that’s what has to continue,” Dixon said. “I know it’s going to be Week 7, but you still need to continue to make improvement. You can’t stay the same or be getting worse. … The two road games puts us in a difficult situation but we will coach it in a positive manner.”
ML – Ethan Just 56-yard run (Joel Leifer PAT)
SS – Ben Steen 9-yard run (Robert Hoffmann PAT)
ML – Nick Schroeder 31-yard pass to Cameron Jaeger (Leifer PAT)
SS – Jake Knuth 2-yard run (Hoffmann PAT good)
ML – Schroeder 31-yard pass to Just (Leifer PAT)
SS – Knuth 81-yard pass to Taylor Gregory (Hoffmann PAT
ML – Leifer 22-yard field goal
ML – Leifer 31-yard field goal
ML – Just 66-yard run (2-point attempt failed)
SS – Andrew Wildmann 19-yard run (Hoffmann PAT)
ML – Jaeger 23-yard run (Leifer PAT)
ML – Schroeder 8-yard run (Leifer PAT)
SS – Knuth 2-yard run (2-point attempt failed)
ML – Alex Shimon 40-yard interception (Leifer PAT)
SS – Knuth 38-yard pass to Gregory (2-point attempt failed)
|Total Net Yards||416||524|
Rushing — Sheboygan South, Jake Knuth 11-43, Robert Hoffmann 4-24, Boris Ristivojevic 10-11, Ben Steen 3-11, Andrew Wildmann 10-59, Fernando Alvarez 1-6. Lincoln, Nick Schroeder 6-43, Ethan Just 12-158, Tucker Kielsmeier 7-4, Cameron Jaeger 3-40.
Passing — Sheboygan South, Jake Knuth 9-11-1-184, Robert Hoffmann 4-13-78. Lincoln, Nick Schroeder 16-28-0-279.
Receiving — Sheboygan South, Taylor Gregory 5-158, Jake Knuth 1-8, Mitchell Martinez 3-71, Boris Ristivojevic 2-23, Ben Steen 1-6, Andrew Wildmann 1-33. Lincoln, Ethan Just 4-57, Matt Fischer 5-72, Tucker Kielsmeier 3-62, Cameron Jaeger 2-41, Ben Kohls 1-27, Jake Rohrer 1-20.