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Zebras Find Perfection In Colfax

Lincoln Wards Off Colfax, 27-17; Finishes 10-0
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Services
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COLFAX – The Lincoln Zebras’ football team shook down the thunder and woke up the echoes here Friday night. Ending 34 years of futility, the Zebras defeated the Colfax Falcons, 27-17, to cap a 10-0 perfect regular season and in the process capture the school’s first outright football championship in over three decades. Not since the 1975 Zebras turned the trick when they went 10-0 in winning the now defunct Pioneer League, had a Lincoln team won a sole league crown and finished the regular campaign unbeaten. “It feels great,” said Lincoln quarterback Alex Stewart who hit on 5 of 7 passes for 118 yards and a touchdown . “We knew early on that we had something special and our chemistry was always there. This was like a playoff game for us tonight and we responded like we have all season long.” The Zebras built a 14-0 lead after a quarter and after the hosts closed the gap to 14-10 by halftime, Lincoln broke open a close game by scoring on its first two possessions of the second half. “The kids really did a great job tonight,” said Lincoln coach Ken Lowe who was at the reins of turning the Zebras around. “We didn’t want to share this we anybody else.” Lincoln, with its Pioneer Valley League title and top seed, will now await its fate for the upcoming CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. The Zebras are expected to land the No. 1 seed for the 4A bracket and host a first round game next Friday. The CIF will release its brackets at approximately 5 p.m. Saturday. The brackets can be viewed at cifsjs.org. Friday’s game took on a playoff type atmosphere has a large Lincoln following spilled over the visiting stands at Marson Stadium while the home side celebrated the Falcons’ Senior Night. Both teams exchanged possessions to start the contest before Lincoln broke the scoring ice when Moses Stanley took a fly sweep 55 yards up the sideline for a 7-0 advantage. Stanley, who rushed nine times for 131 yards, helped the Zebras boost their lead to 14-0 later in the opening quarter when Stewart fired a perfect strike to the Zebras wing back from 27-yards away. But Colfax then made things interesting. With PVL leading rusher Pat Rawlins ripping off gains of 12 and 17 yards and sophomore quarterback Austin Young finding Josh Moreno for a 21-yard pickup to the Zebras 15, the Falcons got on the scoreboard when Mackey Leal was true on a 35-yard field goal. Colfax then capitalized by recovering a Lincoln fumble on the ensuing kickoff at the Zebras 13. Five plays later Rawlins plunged in from a yard out trimming the margin to 14-10 at intermission. “I thought we were right there at halftime,” said Colfax coach Tony Martello. “We just didn’t take advantage in the third quarter.” After going three and out on their first possession of the second half, the Zebras took just nine plays to cover 61 yards with fullback Tim Bevins taking a weak-side trap play and scooting 37 yards and a 20-10 Zebras lead. The Zebras defense then stymied Colfax into another quick possession exit and Bevins capped another Lincoln drive by going over from four yards out. A 16-yard pass from Stewart to Stanley and runs of eight and seven yards were the key plays in the march that boosted the Zebras into a 27-10 lead. Colfax then closed the gap to 27-17 when Rawlins, who gained 161 yards on 29 carries, keyed a long time consuming fourth quarter march which was capped when Mark Machholz found Moreno on a four-yard scoring pass. Lincoln outgained the Falcons 368 to 308 with Bevins adding 62 yards on 15 carries and Alex Cowden picking up 56 more on 13 trips. Lincoln’s offensive line play of Jesse Jeans, John Aleman, John Johnson, Jacob Tryon and Steven Gunter all did a fine job up front for the winners. Colfax had fine defensive outings from Roger Lillie, Dan Stephens, Alex Hurley, Matt Price, Tom Baldoni and Michael Murphy. Colfax ends the regular season at 6-4 and will receive an at-large bid to the Div. 4B playoffs and most likely open in a first round game at either Modesto Christian or Central Catholic.