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Knights win double-overtime thriller

Trent Hopkins had over 143 yards through the air and 128 more on the ground. The sophomore accounted for five touchdowns in the Knights’ thrilling double-overtime 42-40 win in Hillsborough over the Cedar Ridge Red Wolves. Joseph Brymer / LTN Photo

The North Lincoln Knights came away with arguably their most memorable win against Cedar Ridge on Friday night winning 42-40 in double overtime.
Down 28-22 with 2:54 left and no timeouts left the Knights put together an 82-yard drive in 2:03 to tie the game at 28. The Knights had two fourth down conversions on pass plays by Lesharion Johnson (17-yards) and Nathan Travis (13-yard catch) to keep the drive alive. Johnson scored a post-corner to deadlock the game.
It was a breakout game for Johnson, a senior wideout who has gradually become a larger part of the Knights’ passing game, who caught eight passes for 84 yards and three touchdowns. He also reeled in the game winner in the second overtime.
In the final session,Cedar Ridge’s quarterback scored from one-yard out, but the Knights stuffed the two-point conversion.
Sophomore quarterback Trent Hopkins hit Lesharion Johnson on a 10-yard fade route. Johnson was blanketed by the defensive back, but made an unbelievable one-handed catch over the defender to tie the game.
On the two-point conversion a little bit of luck aided the Knights as Hopkins fumbled, but Brandon Mull recovered and ran into the end zone to complete the win.
North Lincoln’s head coach Lonnie Custer was thrilled with Johnson’s play.
“He made some real big catches. He came up to me in the second overtime and said, ‘Throw it to me and the game is over.’ I have a lot of confidence in he and Devin and Nathan—the entire receiving corps,” he said.
In the game, Johnson had three touchdowns of eight yards, 16 yards and 10 yards. Devin Borders scored a 10-yard touchdown. Casey Woodie had a 1-yard touchdown.
Hopkins, who now has 1,478 yards passing and 657 rushing, had arguably his best game of the season. The second-year signal caller was 15-of-27 passing for 143 yards with four touchdowns. He not only helped beat the Red Wolves with his arm, but also with his legs as he rushed for 128 yards on 11 carries, including a 76-yard scamper.
Custer felt Hopkins did a masterful job of orchestrating the Knights’ offense.
“He did a great job of running the scheme we put together this week. We added a few wrinkles and he executed them great. He keeps us real balanced because of his ability to run and throw the ball keeps a lot of teams from stacking the line of scrimmage.”
The Knights had appeared to win the game in the first OT session. Borders caught a 10-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion was stopped by Cedar Ridge.
The Red Wolves’ possession started as a nightmare. After two sacks by Brian Funk and a bevy of defenders and an incompletion which made it fourth and 30 for the Red Wolves, North batted down a hail mary pass, but a controversial pass interference call gave the Red Wolves a first down from the 15-yard line.
After a three-yard run, six-yard pass and three-yard run, Cedar scored a three-yard run.
Lady luck was first on the Knights’ side after it appeared the Red Wolves would just kick the extra point for the victory. Cedar’s extra point hit the right upright to send it into a second overtime.
There were several keys to North Lincoln’s thrilling victory, but perhaps none was bigger than the play of the offensive line. Brandon Ledford, Phillip Schronce, David Bora, Justin Mintun and Scotty Wallace combined for a stellar ballgame. Custer was very pleased with their job.
“We have 27 pass attempts and not a single sack. Our offensive line played great. They played real well. We were able to run or pass the ball whenever we wanted to,” he said.
Another key to the game was containing Devon Moore who rushed for over 250 yards against North last season. Moore was considerably slowed by North’s defense rushing for 128 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns.
“He’s a great running back and he ripped us last year for over 250 yards and to hold him to half of that and to limit their use of him was huge,” Custer said.
The Knights only dressed 24 players due to injuries and suspensions, which made Custer even more proud of his team.
“It was great. The young guys stepped up and got a huge win for us,” he said.
The Knights could wrap up the season with four wins if they’re able to beat Cherryville, who remains winless at 0-9, 0-4 in the Southern Foothills.
“We’re playing for the highest seed we can get in the playoffs. A win at Cherryville would be huge for our playoff seeding,” Custer said.
The Knights improve to 3-7, 0-4 on the season.
by John Mark Brooks

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