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.
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, which led to another score.
South rebounded and was driving down two scores, but with 59 seconds remaining, Shimon returned the interception 40 yards for the Ships’ final score.
“The kids played hard but we didn’t tackle very well and on offense we had too many fumbles. We had three fumbles in the second half, they didn’t stop us on offense, we stopped ourselves,” said South coach Chris Hein. “The kids played hard, but you can’t make mistakes and win games in this conference. We just made too many mistakes.”
Knuth had a solid game at QB, throwing for two touchdown passes and running for two more. Taylor Gregory hauled in both TD passes, an 81 yarder in the first half and a 38-yard catch on the game’s final play.
Ben Steen and Andrew Wildman ran in for scores for South.
Knuth was 9-of-11 passing for 184 yards, splitting time at QB with Robert Hoffmann, who went 4-for-13 for 78 yards. Gregory had five receptions for 158 yards.