The Lincoln Patriots insisted going into the season they weren’t worried about streaks. But having lost consecutive games following their 24-game winning streak, it’s safe to say putting an end to this one before it reached three was a pretty big deal.
The Patriots did so convincingly, if unspectacularly, shaking off a slow start to coast past Aberdeen Central 28-0 Friday at Howard Wood Field.
Lincoln turned the ball over on each of its first two possessions and had two touchdowns called back for penalties late in the second quarter, but the Patriot defense shut down the Golden Eagles completely, allowing its offense to find its footing.
“Sometimes our offense starts slow and the defense has to pick them up,” said Pats running back/linebacker Corey Fichter. “We worked really hard in practice this week, and it feels good to get back in the win column. That’s what we wanted to do.”
After Lincoln fumbled on its opening series, giving the Eagles fine field position, the Pats kept Aberdeen off the board with a fourth down sack by Jimmy Smith. Lincoln turned it over again moments later, but returned the favor when Fichter picked off a pass over the middle.
“It kind of just hit me in the face,” said Fichter, who caught five passes and rushed for 33 yards on offense.
The Pats turned that into points on a 9-yard run by quarterback Cole DeBerg, then used a fade from DeBerg to Tyler Scholmbohm to set up a 1-yard run by Jesse Nelson.
That made it 14-0 early in the second, and the Pats used some trickery to push it to 21-0, with Lee Ransom taking a pitch on a reverse and streaking 63-yards for six.
Lincoln totaled 417 yards of offense in the game but had four turnovers. That didn’t matter because of the defense. Central managed just 106 yards and six first downs, with star receiver Layne Tieszen catching two passes for 15 yards (Tieszen actually got just as many passes from Lincoln, intercepting two passes on the night).
Injuries forced Pats coach Aaron Beavers to make several adjustments to the lineup, particularly at linebacker, and the new-look lineup was dominant. Smith and Mato Standing Soldier each had a sack and two tackles for losses, while the coach gave credit to Tucker Hall, who made three stops. Taylor Kokenge led Lincoln with seven tackles.
“Defense was excellent,” Beavers said. “We didn’t put anything special in, but we were able to pressure them enough to force quick throws, and I think that’s a big reason they didn’t find Tieszen. They had some drops, too, but that happens when you’re disrupting their timing.”
Indeed, the Eagles had too many drops to count, with Cannon Hannigan completing just 4 of 21 passes. He was also the team’s leading rusher, with 20 yards on 13 attempts.
Nelson rushed for 87 yards to lead the Patriots, while Ransom caught five balls for 89 yards. DeBerg was 13 of 24 for 162 yards.
“We had good play-calls and the guys up front played hard,” Fichter said of the offense. “We started slow but we were able to get it going.”
LHS – Cole DeBerg 9 run (Liam Downey kick)
LHS – Jesse Nelson 1 run (Downey kick)
LHS – Lee Ransom 63 run (Downey kick)
LHS – Ransom 44 pass from DeBerg (Downey kick)
RUSHING: AC – Cannon Hannigan 13-20, Aubry Orr 5-24, Preston Barr 3-8, Omar Elkhader 1-8; LHS – Nelson 18-87, Ransom 1-63, DeBerg 6-34, Corey Fichter 3-33
PASSING: AC – Hannigan 4-21-1-16, Landon Lundquist 2-3-0-21; LHS – DeBerg 13-24-3-162
RECEIVING: AC – Mason Trapp 2-28, Layne Tieszen 2-15, Barr 1-(-3); LHS – Ransom 5-89, Fichter 5-31, Tyler Scholbohm 2-50, Trent Naasz 1-(-8)