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East Lincoln junior running back Damarius Valentine carries the ball against North Lincoln on Friday night.

Mustangs stroll past Knights

By RYAN HERMAN
Sports Editor

DENVER –– For the third straight week Chazz Surratt had a monster game, and for the 19th straight game East Lincoln couldn’t be stopped.
The highly-touted sophomore threw for 243 yards and four touchdowns, and added a TD on the ground in the Mustangs’ 34-7 win over county rival North Lincoln on Friday.
“It’s only his third game as a high school quarterback, so I hope he keeps getting better and better,” East Lincoln coach Mike Byus said. “He’s a special athlete, and he’s pretty dang smart back there, too.”
So is the offensive line that gave Surratt all night to pass, and to run, and the defensive line that wouldn’t break.
“Our key was our defensive line holding up against their big guys, and our offensive line gave us time to throw tonight,” Byus said. “That was probably the key.”
Surratt completed his first three passes, then after a pair of incompletions connected on his final five attempts, three to his younger brother, Sage.
Sage Surratt had four catches for 101 yards, and added a 46-yard TD catch for East Lincoln’s final score.
Damarius Valentine led all rushers with 99 yards on nine carries. Chazz Surratt added 62 yards on eight totes as East Lincoln rolled up 402 yards of offense –– the second time in three games it’s gone above 400.
The Mustangs (3-0), who haven’t lost since a first-round state 2A playoff exit on Nov. 4, 2011, needed only seven plays to go up 14-0 a little over 6 minutes in.
Chazz Surratt took off from 40 yards out for a score just inside the 11-minute mark to end a five-play, 88-yard drive. After forcing the Knights to punt, a 5-yard run by Surratt set up his 85-yard TD pass to Austin Buchanan at the 5:42 mark of the first quarter.
Malik Nixon’s conversion catch gave East Lincoln the 14-0 lead, a score that held into the break.
After North Lincoln (0-3) buckled down defensively in the second quarter –– the Mustangs had 182 yards of offense and two scores on their first two drives, but were held to just 35 yards the rest of the half –– East Lincoln broke it open in the third.
Surratt connected with Valentine from 48 yards out, found Justin Rhodes on a scramble from 7 yards out and Surratt hit his brother on the 46-yarder following a scramble, recovered fumble, and a near sack 15 yards in the backfield –– all on the same play.
All that made it 34-0 with 1:20 left in the third.
“Our kids really rose to the occasion,” Byus said.
The Knights, who were led by Richard Jackson’s 55 yards rushing and Chase Caldwell’s 89 yards passing, finally scored on their final possession –– and just their second trip inside the East Lincoln 20.
North Lincoln’s Joseph Shore fell on a fumbled ball in the end zone for its only points.
“I thought we hung in there,” Knights coach David Maness said. “We did a lot of things that you need to do. (The Mustangs are) just a good football team.”
While East Lincoln continued its string of dominance –– the Mustangs are now 10-1 all-time against the Knights and have won six straight in the series –– North Lincoln didn’t shoot itself in the foot like it did in its first two games.
In fact, Maness left The Corral noting the positives –– only two penalties for 10 yards, one turnover and  270 total yards of offense.
“We’re doing some of the things that you need to do,” Maness said. “Our kids are still working hard. We’ve just got to get better. Sooner or later something good will happen to us.”
But in the end East Lincoln had too many athletes.
“They have some really good skill people, and they were able to isolate them on some of our people,” Maness said. “That’s a tough situation to outcoach.”

Image courtesy of Jaclyn Anthony / Lincoln Times-News

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