Lincoln rallies for huge win over No. 8 Antelope
The Lincoln High football team took on Antelope last Friday for their first road game of the season. The Titans were coming off a win over Rocklin and had beaten the Fighting Zebras the past two years.
“Antelope is No. 8 for a reason; they’re definitely a team we feel we can compete with,” said Lincoln head coach Chris Bean before the game. “They want to impose their will; it doesn’t matter if you’re up 10, 14 or 21, they’re coming at you and they aren’t going to change what they do.
“We just have to stop it.”
But stopping a team that rolled up more than 400 yards against the Thunder last week proved early on to be a tall order.
After penetrating Titans’ territory on their first possession, the Zebras were forced to punt. Punter Brett Woolley pinned Antelope on their 1-yard line for great field position, but it did not last long.
The Titans’ Brian Talley went 49 yards to move the ball into Zebras’ territory. From there, Antelope capped a 99-yard drive with a 4-yard rushing touchdown.
In the second quarter, Lincoln’s struggles to move the ball continued. The Titans took advantage of that when quarterback Nathan Lucero hit tight end Carter Sullivan with a 33-yard scoring strike to eventually put the host team up 14-0.
Lincoln signal-caller Tommy Turner responded by finding wide receiver Jacob Lemus in the end zone to cut the Titans’ lead to seven. But Antelope took the ensuing kickoff back down the field to end the half with a 21-7 lead.
Antelope continued their offensive efficiency to start the second half. The Titans went on a six and a half minute drive to increase their lead, but a blocked extra-point kick left the score at 27-7.
At that point, things began to click for the Zebras.
Lincoln took the kickoff and started a solid drive that culminated with Seth Sampson’s 12-yard TD run to narrow the deficit to 27-14.
Then the Zebras’ defense went to work. After stopping Antelope, Lincoln’s offense began pounding the ball on the ground and Sampson, once again, went 12 yards for a score. After the point-after kick, the Zebras were within six, 27-21.
Then lightning struck.
After Lincoln’s defense backed the Titans up near their end zone, defensive back Joey Brown sniffed out a pass play. Charging the passer, Brown went high to block the throw and defensive lineman Nate Labrado hauled it in at Antelope’s 18-yard line.
From there, the Zebras drove to the Titans’ 1-yard line, where Harry Rounds punched it in to seal the game 35-27.
“This is the most incredible game I have ever been a part of,” Bean said. “I’ve never seen that resiliency.”
The loss at home was only the Titan’s second in four years.
“This gives me and the rest of our team confidence,” said Sampson. “Bean told us that it only takes a couple plays to get our swagger back and that’s exactly what happened.
“We never saw ourselves out of the game.”
Lemus echoed Sampson’s sentiment and explained what he thinks is Lincoln’s greatest strength.
“We work as one unit,” Lemus said. “We trust each other to get the job done and finish fast and physical.”
The Zebras had a bye Friday and will host the Whitney Wildcats Sept. 7 for the Stars and Stripes game. The Stars and Stripes game honors first responders in law enforcement, fire protection and the military.
Whitney will come in 0-2 after losing to both Placer and Central of Fresno.
The last time Lincoln and Whitney met was in 2009, when both were members of the Pioneer Valley League. Lincoln won that game 21-14.