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Fighting Zebras end preseason in bizarre 70-35 loss

Lincoln injuries, Mustangs size and speed too much
By: Jim Linsdau News Messenger Sports
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Friday night’s match up between Argonaut and Lincoln high schools kept fans on the edge of their seats in spite of the lopsided 70-35 score. The visiting Mustangs looked as if the blowout would occur early by stunning the Fighting Zebras, 28-0 in the first quarter. What few expected was Lincoln would come charging back in the second quarter to close the gap to seven by intermission. The score at halftime was 35-28 with Argonaut leading. What many anticipated would be a titanic struggle between the two clubs in the second half didn’t materialize as the Mustangs turned Lincoln mistakes into Argonaut scores. “I don’t know if I can even put my finger on it,” said an almost bewildered Zebras head coach Ken Lowe as to the way the game went. “I guess we’ve got a streak of bad luck right now. We’ve had some injuries on our defense that really killed us.” That weakened defense allowed the visitors to open the second half scoring a 49-yard rushing touchdown just two plays into the third quarter. It was the second of three such touchdowns for Mustang running back Colton Merriman, who made two other scoring runs of 76 and 35 yards using that same play. “It’s called a Y-33 dive,” Merriman said after the game. “Our line was kicking out the tackles pretty good. We have the biggest line we’ve had since Rick Davis, our head coach, has been coaching.” The play was set up by an onside kick that Argonaut recovered at their own 48. Lincoln quickly retaliated after running back Isaac Allen raced 61 yards to set up a Zebras’ score. Quarterback Jake Gomez went in from 5-yards out at the 9:46 mark of the third quarter to put the score at 42-35, Argonaut still leading. After kicking off, Lincoln managed to hold the Mustangs to what appeared to be a three-and-out. However, the ensuing Argonaut punt took a crazy bounce and was ruled to have touched a Zebras’ player. The Mustangs recovered the ball at Lincoln’s 26-yard line. After picking up a first down on a fourth-and-six, Argonaut was able to score from 1-yard out on a run by Ryan King. From that point on much of the fight went out of the Fighting Zebras. Wide receiver Jon Soto, who ran for 100 yards and one touchdown in the first half and had only 17 yards on five carries in the second half, was at a loss to explain the letdown. When asked if the recent loss of their former teammate and friend still weighed on the players, he had this to say: “You know, we just dedicated our season to him, so we’re just trying our hardest to come out here and play every down to the fullest,” Soto said. “We do have some hurt players. This bye week we’re just going to freshen up and get ready for league.” Argonaut put the game out of reach at the end of the third quarter when quarterback Kyle Calais hit wide receiver Austin Hoyt with a 72-yard scoring strike. That put the score at 56-35. The Zebras tried going to the passing game in the fourth quarter, but came up empty on four tries. The final blow came when Hoyt, playing defense, scooped up a Lincoln broken-play fumble and went 25 yards for the final score. Again, injuries and fatigue eventually took its toll on the Fighting Zebras as they fell to 1-4 in preseason play. The Mustangs improved to 3-1 on the season. Lincoln has next week off to get ready for Pioneer Valley League play. The Fighting Zebras host Foothill, Oct. 7. Argonaut 70, Lincoln 35 Argonaut 28 7 21 14 70 Lincoln 0 28 7 0 35 PASSING Argonaut – K Calais 2-3, 117, 2, 0. Lincoln – J Gomez 1-5, 10, 0, 0, J Hubbard 0-1. RUSHING Argonaut – M Miguel 5, 27, Merriman 11, 195, 3, A Cramer 11, 82, 1, B King 7, 77, 1, K Calais 1, 8, B Hayes 2, 16, 2. Lincoln – I Allen 26, 210, 2, J Gomez 13, 80, 1, J Soto 14, 87, 2, C Castro 4, 15, J Tayeh 1, 3, A Torres 1, 3. RECEIVING Argonaut – A Cramer 1, 37, 1, A Hoyt 1, 72, 1. Lincoln – J Soto 1, 10. First Downs – Argonaut 12. Lincoln 16. Penalties – Argonaut 1, 10. Lincoln 8, 76.