It all came down to this.
A season after the Manitowoc Lincoln football team finished the regular season a perfect 9-0, the Ships entered Friday’s season finale against host De Pere needing a win to remain playoff eligible.
In the end, the Ships fell 30-27 as a last-ditch effort went for naught.
Lincoln struck first, as Travis DuPont intercepted the Redbirds and Ethan Just took it in from eight yards out to give the Ships a 7-0 lead.
De Pere returned the favor, converting a Ships fumble into a field goal to trim Lincoln’s lead.
Lincoln quarterback Nick Schroeder threw an interception on the ensuing possession and De Pere capitalized to take a 10-7 lead as the second quarter began.
Just wouldn’t be denied though, scoring his second touchdown of the night, this time from nine yards to help Lincoln regain the lead 14-10.
The Redbirds responded immediately, with Alex Herzog taking a long run to the two-yard line before De Pere plunged in to take a 16-14 lead.
A 47-yard touchdown run by De Pere extended the Red Birds’ lead to 23-14 with the second quarter winding down.
The Ships drove inside the Redbirds’ 10-yard line but a holding call negated a six-yard touchdown pass by Schroeder, with Lincoln settling for a 30-yard field goal attempt which was blocked.
Schroeder got Lincoln down the field and score on a one-yard keeper but the extra point was blocked leaving the Ships down 23-20.
De Pere answered seconds later on a 51-yard run to regain a two-possession lead at 30-20.
With the first play of the fourth quarter, Schroeder scored from two yards out to get the Ships back in the game 30-27.
The Lincoln defense got the stop they need with about five minutes left in the game, and Schroeder hit Just for a huge gain inside the De Pere 40-yard line on the next play. The drive stalled with a fourth-and-two pass falling incomplete but a holding call would have wiped out any gain if they had converted.
With two minutes left, the Ships had a chance to drive 98 yards for the win but Lincoln got as far as midfield in a last-gasp attempt to scrape out a win after a fumble and a sack on successive plays doomed the drive.
The Ships’ valiant effort fell short, as they finish the season 3-5 and one game out of playoff contention.
ML – 8-yard run Ethan Just, XP good
DP – 28-yard field goal Eli Wettstein
DP – 20-yard pass Blake Rutherford to Evan Newhouse
ML – 9-yard run Ethan Just, XP good
DP – 2-yard run Evan Zellner, XP no good
DP – 47-yard run Evan Zellner, XP good
ML – 1-yard run Nick Schroeder, XP blocked
DP – 51-yard run Evan Zellner, XP good
ML – 1-yard run Nick Schroeder, XP good
|Total Net Yards||463||365|
Rushing — Lincoln -Manitowoc, Ethan Just 22-109, Nick Schroeder 13-68, Tucker Kielsmeier 9-31. De Pere, Evan Zellner 22-109, Alex Herzog 10-107.
Passing — Lincoln -Manitowoc, Nick Schroeder 19-29-1-238. De Pere, Blake Rutherford 6-11-1-76.
Receiving — Lincoln -Manitowoc, Ethan Just 4-64, Tucker Kielsmeier 4-75, Matt Fischer 5-47. De Pere, Evan Newhouse 5-78.