Prep football: Ships complete improbable comeback against Redwings

Prep football: Ships complete improbable comeback against Redwings

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Prep football: Ships complete improbable comeback against Redwings

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SHEBOYGAN

Manitowoc’s bruising ground game was not going anywhere. The defense was getting outmuscled. Nothing was going the way of the Ships.

Then, an opportunity. And players made plays.

Despite being outplayed for the first 3½ quarter, Lincoln stuck around long enough at Sheboygan South and made the most of late chances to pull out a dramatic 21-17 victory over the Redwings.

“We were very fortunate,” Ships coach John Dixon said.

The win puts the Ships at 4-3, 4-2 in the Fox River Classic Conference, likely assuring them of a postseason berth. They can make it official next Saturday with a win over winless Green Bay West at Homecoming.

Manty trailed 10-0 in the first quarter. The defense was playing on its heels and the offense had just 10 plays to the Redwings’ 17.

But the Ships hung around. Even after they went down 17-7 with 7:04 left in the fourth quarter.

Manty answered South’s fourth-quarter score with a nine-play, 65-yard drive that started with a South pass interference call and ended on a six-yard TD run by Ethan Just.

Down 17-14 with 4:10 remaining, the Ships attempted a pooch onside kick that went out of bounds. But instead of taking the ball at the 40-yard line, South made Manty re-kick.

The second attempt was the charm. Kicker Joel Leifer dribbled his kick 11 yards and the Ships hopped on it. Manty scored seven plays later on a 13-yard TD pass from Ezra Emme to Cameron Jaeger, and took a 21-17 lead with 1:55 to go.

Without any timeouts, South advanced to the Ships’ 40 yard line on its final drive, but on fourth-and-2, a bomb into the end zone into double coverage did not connect.

South coach Chris Hein said he made the call in an effort for better field position.

“I point the finger at me,” he said. “I should have accepted the penalty and given the offense a chance to put the game away.”

“I never question another coach’s decisions. He had his reasons. Chris Hein is a great coach,” Dixon said. “But we were able to take advantage of an opportunity. I think I would have taken the football.”

Down 10-7 at halftime, Dixon challenged his team to make plays and match South’s energy, which it did in the closing stretch.

“Sheboygan South played a great football game. They had everything to gain, and nothing to lose, and we didn’t play like we believed that,” Dixon said. “We played like we practiced all week, which was not very good.

“It seems like they weren’t aggressive in trying to win the game, they were trying to outlast us. We took advantage of that,” he said.

Senior quarterback Brennan Mrotek was in street clothes and did not play, putting the sophomore Emme behind center. He got off to an auspicious start when his first pass attempt was deflected and intercepted by a defensive lineman.

It didn’t appear to faze Emme much. He settled down and had a solid game, going 11-for-16 for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Both TD receptions went to Jaeger.

Manitowoc is the FRCC’s top rushing squad, but South’s front seven frustrated the Ships. They finished with 192 yards rushing — they average 285 per contest.

But the Ships’ passing game, led by Emme, made big plays. The team averaged just 48 yards per game through the air.

“Kid did a heck of a job making throws when he had to,” Hein said.

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