Lincoln tops Woodland 19-7 in opener

By: y Galen Kusic Special to the News-Messenger
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The Woodland Wolves ran into a much improved, fired up Lincoln team Friday as the Zebras came into Woodland and left with a 19-7 victory. The difference between last year's team and this year's team? Lincoln made the big plays. The entire night, the Zebras came through in clutch situations. "We have better team speed this year," Lincoln head coach Ken Lowe said. On the first Lincoln drive from scrimmage, quarterback Alex Stewart connected to tight end JJ Castillo for a 53-yard completion down the middle of the field to the Woodland 27-yard-line. The drive would stall after seven plays, but it was an indicator of what was yet to come. Lincoln dominated time of possession for the first half, and the entire game. The Zebra defense was stingy. In the first half, they partially blocked a punt, forced three fumbles and only allowed two Woodland first downs. Two field goals gave the Zebras a slim 6-0 lead at halftime. It wasn't until the second half that Lincoln truly began to control the ball. Woodland had numerous chances, but it was big special teams plays and an interception by cornerback Bo Avery in the end zone that really changed the momentum of the game. Stewart had just thrown his only interception of the game to begin the third quarter, deep in Lincoln territory at the 16. On the ensuing play, Andrew Lojewski threw a fade route to the corner of the end zone, but Avery picked it out of the air for a Zebra touchback. “That was a huge momentum swing," Avery said. "I knew they wanted to score on a fade first play - it was like I was in their huddle or something." On that drive from the twenty, Lincoln put together a 17-play monster that essentially ate up the entire third quarter before Stewart scored on a keeper from one yard out. "Our offensive line really came out to play in the third quarter," Lowe said. The combination of powerful fullback Tim Bevins and speedy, shifty wingback Moses Stanley proved to be a nightmare for Woodland defenders. Bevins carried the ball seven times on the ten-minute plus drive. He proceeded to ram it up the gut - carrying 18 times for 54 tough yards and the touchdown to seal it with less than five minutes to play. Stanley ran wild all game, carrying ten times for 89 yards. He also caught a pass for 16 yards. "That is what this offense is about," Lowe said. "Grinding it down and getting it done so the defense can rest." The Zebras capitalized on the most critical turnover of the game when Lojewski fumbled at his own ten, setting up Stanley for a nine-yard run to the one before Bevins punched it in. "We're really playing together better as a team this year," said Bevins, referring to the team's attitude as a whole compared to last season. An interception late in the game by defensive back Dylan Croisant put the game out of reach for Woodland. "Our defense played incredible," Lowe said. "Forcing those five turnovers was the difference in the game."