Coming into Fridayâ€™s game versus the Bandys Trojans, East Lincoln knew they had to contain 2,000-yard running back Chris Spade. The Mustangs did just that, limiting Spade to 68 yards on 17 carries.
That was the good news. The bad news was that East Lincoln turned the ball over five times, with three of the turnovers occurring inside the Trojansâ€™ 25-yard line, which contributed to a 28-7 loss.
In what proved to be ominous, the Mustangs, after recovering an onside kick, fumbled the ball on Bandysâ€™ eight-yard line.
With Spade corralled by the green and orange, the Trojans were forced to turn to the air. Quarterback Tyler Rowe connected three times with wideout Antonio Reid for 116 yards, with all three receptions being touchdowns.
The duo hooked up on a 73-yard bomb in the first quarter for the Trojans first score. Then Rowe hit Reid for a 21-yard score to give Bandys a 14-0 lead heading into the second.
Reid caught a 22-yard score in the second quarter to give the Trojans a comfortable 21-0 lead.
East Lincoln head coach Matt Rikard said it was blown coverage that led to all three touchdowns.
â€œWith the coverage we were in all three times, our corners were supposed to have free safety help over the top and all three times they didnâ€™t get it.â€
Rowe, who did throw three interceptions on the night, hit Clay Mackie for a 14-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
The Mustangsâ€™ signal caller Seth Alexander punched in a score from two yards out, but it was too little too late with the game ending 28-7.
Rikardâ€™s worst fears regarding his offense came true as they turned the ball over five times.
â€œEven during the scrimmage those (turnovers) have been our nemesis. We knew going into the game in order to beat a caliber of team like Bandys we had to hold onto the ball,â€ he said.
In the loss, junior running back Ryan Sykes rushed for 120 yards on 18 carries, a fact not missed by Rikard.
â€œThere is still improvement we have to make on the offensive line. Sykes ran the ball well, he hit the holes. Last year, he had a tendency to want to bounce it outside all the time, but he ran behind his blockers, and it paid off for him.â€
The Mustangs out-rushed the Trojans 187 yards to 149 yards for the game.
On the defensive side of the ball, sophomore Matt Warren and senior Todd Link were standouts.
â€œBoth of them are two-way players. They performed well on offense and turned around on defense and did a great job for us,â€ Rikard said.
East will face a much-improved West Lincoln team this Friday. Rikard and his staff will harp on the good things they did against Bandys.
â€œWeâ€™re going to draw off the positives. We moved the ball against probably the best 2A team in the Western part of the state and against a team that physically we were out-manned (as far as size). We shut down and out-rushed a very potent rushing attack,â€ he said.
â€œWe canâ€™t fumble and canâ€™t have breakdowns in the secondary. If those things continue to happen, weâ€™re not going to be able to beat a quality team,â€ Rikard added.
by John Mark Brooks