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Wheatland escapes Lincoln comeback for 32-27 victory

Hopking, Samson make the difference
By: Jim Linsdau News Messenger Sports Editor
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After battling back from a 13-point deficit at halftime, the Lincoln High Fighting Zebras just couldn’t stop Wheatland’s high-powered offense. The Pirates’ passing attack and the home club’s four lost fumbles in the first half gave the visitors a 32-27 victory at Lincoln Friday night. The Zebras’ appeared they would turn things around when James Hubbard rambled for 21 and 25 yards for back-to-back touchdowns in the second half to give Lincoln a 21-20 lead at the end of three quarters. However, in the fourth period the pendulum swung back to Wheatland. “Just mental mistakes,” said Lincoln head coach Ken Lowe of his team’s first loss, “and holding onto the ball.” In period four, Pirates’ quarterback Jackson Hopking found receiver Jordan Sampson behind the defense and hit him with a 40yard scoring strike to give the lead back to Wheatland. Lincoln returned the favor by marching down to the Pirates’ 6-yard where Hubbard again carried the ball in. A holding penalty put the ball out of reach for a 2-point conversion and the Zebras led by one, 27-26. The Lincoln defense turned back Wheatland on their next possession to force a punt. The Zebras managed to move the ball out to their own 37 facing a fourth-and-one. The decision to go for it with less than three minutes remaining in the game, but a busted play put the defense back on the field. The Zebras held solid for three downs, but Hopking found Joel Johnson at the Lincoln 15-yard line for a first down. Lighting struck again when Sampson juggled a pass in the end zone but held on to give Wheatland a 32-27 lead with less than two minutes to play. After the kickoff, Lincoln quarterback Davis Dykstra hit Hubbard with two passes and Lucas Falcon for one as the Zebras moved out to their 37-yard line with 1:25 showing on the clock. But on another fourth-and-one, Wheatland’s Michael Robinson stepped in front of a Dykstra pass over the middle and sealed the win for the 3-0 Pirates. “Mental mistakes were killing us in the first half,” Lowe said. “We took care of those in the locker room (but) the hole was too big, we couldn’t finish it.” Lincoln, 2-1, is scheduled to play a Thursday game at Mesa Verde, Sept. 20. Wheatland 32, Lincoln 27 Pirates 20 0 0 12 – 32 Zebras 0 7 14 6 – 27 1st Qtr W – Campos 22 run (run failed) 8:54 W – Sowle recovers fumble in end zone (pass failed) 6:00 W – Johnson 6 pass from Hopking (pass good) 0:43 2nd Qtr L – Hubbard 6 run (Diaz kick) 7:45 3rd Qtr L – Hubbard 21 run (kick failed) 11:17 L – Hubbard 25 run (run good) 0:07 4th Qtr W – Sampson 40 pass from Hopking (pass failed) 11:01 L – Hubbard 6 run (run failed) 8:39 W – Sampson 15 pass from Hopking (pass failed) 1:32