Zebras topple Placer, remain perfect

Lincoln defense holds Hillmen to one score after giving up 55 points last season
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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The Placer High football team and an overflow crowd at LeFebvre Stadium found out firsthand just how far Lincoln has come in the past year. The Zebras corralled Placer’s high-powered offense on their way to a 13-6 win Friday night. Senior fullback Tim Bevins scored two touchdowns as Lincoln improved to 8-0 on the year while handing the Hillmen (7-1) their first loss. Senior Todd Hinnebusch had two interceptions for the Zebras. His second set up Lincoln’s game-winning drive — an 84-yard march capped by Bevins’ 1-yard run with 4 minutes 43 seconds left in the game. Placer answered with an impressive drive of its own. But Asher Gotzmer, who rushed for 109 yards on 21 carries, was stripped of the ball inside the Lincoln 5-yard line and J.J. Castillo pounced on it to all but seal the Zebras’ victory. “I saw it come out and my natural instinct was to just fall on it, cover it up,” the 6-5, 250-pound Castillo said. “Placer’s a great team. This was a really fun game, my kind of game.” The defensive struggle was a stark contrast to last season’s meeting in Lincoln, in which Placer won 55-30. “It just goes to show you what one year can do for a program,” Placer coach Joey Montoya said. “They really didn’t do anything that we didn’t expect. We just didn’t didn’t execute at the right times.” Placer broke through on its first drive of the second quarter as junior Josh Turney dashed into the end zone from eight yards out to cap a 64-yard drive. Cameron Southward’s extra-point attempt missed. Lincoln answered with a workmanlike 80-yard TD march. Bevins, who finished with a game-high 111 rushing yards, scored from two yards out. Southward atoned for his missed kick by making the tackle on a botched snap on Lincoln’s extra-point attempt to keep the game tied at 6-6. Placer had a 20-yard field goal attempt blocked following its first drive of the second half. “That was a bad call on my part,” Placer coach Joey Montoya said. “I take full responsibility for the offensive coordinating and the offensive line play tonight. Give Lincoln a lot of credit. They made some great plays at the right times. Their defensive line created a lot of conflicts with our passing game.” Placer junior Collin Burnett completed 4 of 7 passes for 66 yards, but he was pressured all night by Castillo and company. The Zebras got sacks from Steven Gunter, Alex Cowden, Anthony Moreno (2), Jacob Tryon, Zak Gianola, Dustin Knuuttila and Castillo. “We’re big,” Castillo said. “Me and my friend over there (Tryon), we’re both 6-5, I’m 250 and he’s 300 pounds. But all of us work really hard on defense.” Offensively, Lincoln got very little from leading rusher Moses Stanley (10 yards on seven carries). But Bevins found running room up the middle to make up for it. “At first we were surprised at their defense because we usually move the ball,” Bevins said. “They’re a tough team, so we just had to let go of the big plays and take what they gave us.” Dalton Dyer rushed for 75 yards on 10 carries for Placer and Southward caught two passes for 39 yards. The Hillmen fans were joined by more than a dozen Grant High players and fans in the stands Friday night. The Pacers, who won the open division California football championship last season and are undefeated again this year, had a bye Friday night. Lincoln (4-0 Pioneer Valley League) is on the road again next Friday, facing Bear River. Placer (3-1 PVL) is back at home to face Colfax.