CAMBRIDGE CITY, Ind.
It only took just more than a minute for Northeastern to take the lead in Friday night’s varsity football game at Lincoln High School.
The first of four touchdowns by junior Kelsy Kirkland gave the visiting Knights the lead and they never looked back.
In the end, Northeastern had a 58-7 victory over the Golden Eagles, and now sits just one win from a Tri-Eastern Conference championship.
Northeastern is now 5-1 in the conference and 6-2 overall, and hosts Union City next Friday with at least a share of TEC honors on the line. Winless Lincoln hosts neighboring rival Hagerstown the same night. Both home teams will celebrate Senior Night.
On this night, it was all Knights, as the dominant visitors ran roughshod over a young Golden Eagle team that continues to take its knocks as the regular season winds down. NHS scored on its first five possessions, and only the clock running out stopped a final first-half drive. The Knights then scored the first two times on offense in the third quarter before turning play over to varsity reserves and junior varsity players.
And the Knight defense was just as impressive as the offense, blanking the Golden Eagles until Kyler Baker reached paydirt with just more than a minute to play in the game.
“We’re thrilled to be in the position we are, to have a chance to play for the conference title,” Northeastern head coach Mike Roeder said. “We stressed coming over here (to Lincoln) and playing well early. You need to do that or it can be a long night against a proud football program like Lincoln.
“Our kids did a real good job, and now we need to have a good week of practice this week, a championship week, and we’re happy to be playing at home. We were prepared this week, and I’m sure that we will be ready to go next week.”
Kirkland had another big night running the ball, but classmate Joey Claypoole had a huge all-around game, with several big returns, two interceptions on defense, a 34-yard scramble for a touchdown and two passes to Sandlin for two-point conversions.
Claypoole talked about his simple approach in returning kickoffs and punts.
“The only thing I think about is trying to run back for a touchdown, just looking for daylight and running as far as I can,” he said.
He ran back the opening kickoff to the Lincoln 46, four plays later Kirkland was running into the end zone.
Claypoole’s TD run came on the final play of the first quarter, and after he hit Tyler Sandlin for the two-point conversion, the Knights already led 22-0, and were in total command. It was 36-0 at intermission, 52-0 after three periods, and backups Jacob Auger and Preston Hurst connected on a 13-yard scoring strike midway in the fourth quarter for a 58-0 lead, before the lone Golden Eagle score.
“We just need to worry about ourselves this week,” said Lincoln head coach Phil Renforth. “This team has a multitude of things to improve on, from our tackling to our overall aggressiveness. We need to find a way to get better in a lot of ways this week.”
Unofficially, Kirkland ran for 228 yards on just 14 carries, while J. J. Fleming ran for 69 yards and Sandlin for 60. Baker had 65 yards on the ground for Lincoln, but the Knight defense limited Lincoln’s passing game to four completions in 18 attempts, and all of those came in the first half.