Mustangs’ kick is difference in OT win over Zebras

Placer brings David vs. Goliath matchup
By: Jim Linsdau, Sports Editor
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SACRAMENTO – The Lincoln High football team fell 27-26 to Foothill Friday, as two costly turnovers gave the Mustangs the opportunities it needed for victory.

There were plenty of mistakes on both sides in the Pioneer Valley League contest, but the two clubs still gave the fans their money’s worth. The seesaw battle was not decided until the final point-after kick in overtime.

“It’s the little things still that they see that they’re not doing or they’re not getting down and now they notice it; before, they wouldn’t have noticed it,” said Lincoln first-year head coach Chris Bean in reference to his team’s progress. “Now they see it, but they’re not necessarily doing it.”

The season has taken its toll on the Fighting Zebras, with up to 18 players sidelined with injuries. Three of those players were starters, quarterback Eli Garcia, running back Dane Stimbert and center Luke Suchomel – all out for the season.

“The psyche takes a little bit of a hit when you start losing some of your key guys,” Bean said, adding that the Zebras had to replace three starting linemen for the game. “Sure, you’ve been hit, but you can’t make excuses for the next guy up.”

In spite of the loss of key players, the season rolls on and league-leading Placer (3-0, 6-2) will be the next challenge on the docket. The Hillmen come in Friday after blanking No. 2 Bear River 28-0 Friday.

Placer used a balanced attack (205 yards passing, 235 yard rushing) and a rock-solid defense to subdue the Bruins.

Cornerback Logan Crawford had three quarterback sacks and shook loose a Bear River fumble. He also had nine tackles to rank second among the Hillmen in that category.

Placer scored twice rushing and had two touchdowns passing.

Quarterback Clark Pietromonaco not only threw, but also ran for 72 yards and one TD on three carries. He threw touchdown passes to seniors Frankie O’Neal and Austin Hess. O’Neal had 112 yards on five catches.

Running backs Owen Scott, Jared Halbert and Hess combined for 139 yards on 28 totes.

Against Foothill, Lincoln took an early 7-6 lead in the first quarter, gaining the turnover advantage with an interception and a fumble recovery. The Zebras then went up 13-6 on a 1-yard plunge by Eli Cunningham, but a Lincoln interception and a bad snap brought the Mustangs back into the game 13-12 at halftime.

In the third quarter, Cunningham went 14 yards for another six and a 20-12 lead following Daniel Leyva’s PAT kick. But another Zebras’ turnover opened the door for Foothill once again.

After an 8-yard TD run by Foothill, the Mustangs made good on a 2-point conversion to tie the score 20-20. Neither team was able to move the ball after that, as time ran down to send the game into overtime.

“We’re good; we know we are,” said Caleb Kettlehut, who scored on a 10-yard run in overtime to give Lincoln the early advantage 26-20. “It just takes time. We’re still going to have our high expectations for everybody and we’re not going to quit.”

Lincoln was unable to convert the extra point to again open the door for the Mustangs.

In overtime, Foothill answered Kettlehut’s TD with a 10-yard pass play. Foothill’s Larry Alford then stepped up big for a successful point-after kick and triggered an orange and black celebration.

“We say we can actually do something special every single play and it’s that belief that will take hold,” Bean said. “It’s just, who is going to get it this time? That’s not there, obviously, that’s in the future.”