Prep football: Lincoln runs past North

Prep football: Lincoln runs past North

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Prep football: Lincoln runs past North

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MANITOWOC

Make no bones about it, last week’s three-point loss to state-ranked Ashwaubenon was a tough one for head coach John Dixon and Manitowoc Lincoln to swallow.

Though the Ships fell short in the final tally, the game helped instill confidence in a relatively young team.

That new-found confidence showed on Friday night as a consistent rushing attack lifted Lincoln over Sheboygan North 48-14 in a Fox River Classic Conference game at Ron Rubick Field.

“I think our kids had enough success last week against Ashwaubenon,” Dixon said. “With a young team, you have to see yourself having success to believe in yourself and I think they bought into that a little tonight.”

The Ships offense went straight to work, marching 73 yards on just six plays in 1:25 on the game’s opening drive, capped by a four-yard touchdown run by Drew Dixon.

A quick three-and-out from the Golden Raiders put Lincoln right back in the drivers’ seat and they made the most of the opportunity. The offense manufactured an eight-play, 54-yard tear culminating in Dixon’s second scoring rush of the night, making 14-0 in favor of the home team.

Manitowoc’s defense continued to be stingy in the early going, forcing North to punt once again on the ensuing possession.

Back on the move, the Ships looked primed to cash-in and open the flood gates, but North’s defense stood tall and forced a turnover deep in its own territory.

Golden Raiders head coach Karl Nienhuis was hoping that the timely play could turn the tide in his squad’s direction.

“We were really looking for some momentum there,” Nienhuis said. “To be able to punch it in and make it 14-7 there would have really been nice.”

Manty’s defense began to bend, but didn’t break. The Golden Raiders reached the Ships’ 35-yard-line, only to turn the ball over on downs.

“Stopping them there…I think was huge,” Dixon said. “You get a little nervous in that situation, but I give our kids a lot of credit.”

A new quarter brought much of the same for the Ships’ offense. The line continued to open up holes that were likely only matched in size by the eyes of the tailbacks who had the privilege of running through them.

“They (the offensive line) have really started to gel. We’re as big up front as we’ve ever been,” Dixon said. “I think our kids really came together well and executed.”

Dixon found the end zone for the third time in the opening minutes of the second stanza, this time, from 20-yards out, making it 21-0 Lincoln.

However, North had a quick answer.

Jacob Schmidt found Noah Stengel, who was able to corral a tipped pass and bring it in for a 77-yard score, putting the Golden Raiders on the board and, more importantly, keeping them within striking distance.

Lincoln was forced to punt on the following drive but, once again, the defense stepped up, recovering a fumble near midfield.

Not to be out-done by his counterpart, Brennan Mrotek hooked up with Ben Kohls on a 39-yard touchdown pass that pushed Manty’s edge back to 21.

The Golden Raiders were able to force their way deep into Lincoln territory, but were unable to convert. The 10-play drive stalled on the Ships’ 16.

From there, Manitowoc’s rushing attack made an encore appearance. Inheriting less than ideal field position, the Ships traversed the remaining 84 yards in just 1:09, polished off by Ethan Just, who rumbled 55 yards to house.

Just struck again, shortly before the half on a five-yard run that was setup by a Marc Clifton interception.

Roughly midway thru the third quarter, Ezra Emme entered the game at quarterback for Lincoln.

It didn’t take long for the sophomore signal caller to settle in. Emme connected with Dixon on his first, and only, pass attempt of the contest for a 46-yard score.

Though he was happy to see some of his non-starters find success, the depth chart dictated that Dixon had to leave some starters in later in the game.

“At the end, I wish we had more backups. Our backup fullback is Ethan Just,” Dixon said. “It was just unfortunate that we couldn’t get everybody off the field”

On the final play of the game, Schmidt put North on the board for the second time, once again finding Stengel on a five-yard touchdown pass.

One of the positives that Nienhuis drew from the loss was the symmetry between Schmidt and Stengel.

“Those two guys work an awful lot together. It was nice to see,” Nienhuis said. “We wanted to take a timeout there and punch it in and feel good about the ending.”

Dixon finished the game with four touchdowns, but he wasn’t about to take all of the credit.

“We had a really good performance from our offensive line,” Drew Dixon said. “There were some really big holes, it made my job easy.”

Just racked up 187 rushing yards and a pair of scores on 12 carries, all in the first half.

Nienhuis knows that, while reviewing the film of Friday night’s loss may not be enjoyable, it will provide a starting point for growth and improvement.

“I told them to keep their heads up, that we have to go back and just take each play and try to compete on each one,” Stengel said. “The last two games it has been more us than them, so we have to really improve that.”

As Lincoln moves to 1-2 on the campaign, Dixon is ready to see his team rise to new levels.

“We have a new level of expectation. I don’t care who we’re playing, that doesn’t make a difference,” Dixon said. “We know we’re capable of more than we’ve shown. I just expect us to continue to improve.”

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