On yet another very mild March evening for high school football, North Lincoln and East Lincoln battled it out on the gridiron for a current share of the top spot in the South Fork 2A Conference as we approach the halfway point of this spring season.
In the end, it was the Mustangs who came out with the perfect 3-0 record, 2-0 in conference play, with a 40-30 win over the rival Knights in Denver.
It took just three plays for East Lincoln to get on the scoreboard.
Sophomore quarterback Tyler Mizzell hooked up with receiver Austin Smith for a 35-yard scoring strike just 48 seconds into the game for a 6-0 lead, and Paulie Menegay’s 10-yard touchdown run late in the quarter gave the Mustangs a 12-0 advantage.
But North Lincoln came storming back in the second period.
First, it was a 3-yard run by quarterback Jack Carter and a Brennen Rogers extra point kick that trimmed the East Lincoln lead to 12-7. Then Daniel Carter ran one in from 11 yards out, followed by a Cooper Wray to Seth Whitley 2-point conversion pass to give the Knights a 15-12 lead with 3:38 to play until halftime.
The Mustangs, however, closed the half strong, scoring a pair of touchdowns in the final 1:01 of the second period.
A Mizzell to Joe Dos Santos 13-yard scoring hookup, coupled with a North Lincoln turnover and a second Mizzell to Smith touchdown pass of the evening gave East Lincoln their two touchdown cushion back at the break. Add a pair of Jaxon Sellers PAT’s, and the Mustangs led 26-15.
North Lincoln wasted little time to open the second half. Junior quarterback Kyle Kovalchuk found Whitley deep down the sideline on a 46-yard scoring toss, and the conversion run by Wray made it a 26-23 game just minutes into the third period.
But neither team was able to reach the end zone again until the Mustangs scored from six yards out on Menegay’s second touchdown of the evening, making it a 33-23 East Lincoln lead.
Menegay would tack on his third scoring run of the game early in the fourth period, when he broke free down the sideline on a 70-yarder to pretty much secure the win.
The Knights tacked on a touchdown with another Daniel Carter scoring run, this one from 21 yards out with just 4:20 to play.
The Mustangs outgained North Lincoln in total yardage 378 to 250, including 206 through the air from Mizzell on 12 of 17 passing and three scores. Menegay added 139 yards on the ground, and another 3 scores for East Lincoln.
Daniel Carter led the Knights offense, rushing for 94 yards on 16 carries and a pair of scores. Jack Carter and Kovalchuk combined to throw for 113 yards, including Kovalchuk’s 46-yard scoring play to Whitley, who had three catches for 67 yards and the touchdown.
The win over their rival keeps the Mustangs perfect on the season at 3-0, and puts them in a first-place tie at the top of the South Fork 2A Conference standings with Maiden at 2-0.
The Blue Devils had Friday night off.
North Lincoln falls to 2-1 overall, and 1-1 in conference play.
East Lincoln will travel to Bandys on Friday, while the Knights will play at Maiden. (Published March 15, 2021)