Lin­coln Rolls With Prairie Grove’s Punches

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - SPORTS - By Mark Humphrey

LIN­COLN — Fri­day’s foot­ball show­down be­tween Lin­coln (8-2, 5-2 4A-1) and Prairie Grove (5-5, 4-3 4A-1) be­came an of­fen­sive show­case won by Lin­coln, 59-48, to con­clude the 4A-1 Con­fer­ence sched­ule.

The teams com­bined for more than 1,100 yards of of­fense, but Lin­coln hun­gered for a win.

“It’s been a few years since Lin­coln’s beat Prairie Grove, the num­bers are crazy — ev­ery­one’s heard any­where from 19 to 25 years,” said Lin­coln se­nior quar­ter­back Caleb Lloyd. “To go out there and beat them in a game like this where it was a def­i­nite of­fen­sive show­down, we tried on de­fense, we tried on ev­ery as­pect of the ball, but our of­fense just showed out.”

Lloyd hit on 24-of-31 passes for 386 yards and 4 touch­downs with­out an in­ter­cep­tion. He ran 13 times for 87 yards and 3 touch­downs.

Con­fu­sion ex­ists be­cause Lin­coln and Prairie Grove have not played ev­ery year. When the Wolves be­longed to the 3A-1 Con­fer­ence while Prairie Grove was a mem­ber of the 4A-1, the schools did not com­pete in foot­ball from 2008-2011. The series re­sumed with the Wolves mov­ing into the 4A-1 in 2012.

Lin­coln led 20-7 at the end of the first quar­ter, then Prairie Grove forced a turnover on downs and scored a touch­down, fol­lowed by an­other Prairie Grove touch­down when Lin­coln fum­bled the en­su­ing kick­off; then yet an­other (third-straight) Prairie Grove touch­down set up by block­ing a Lin­coln punt.

All of a sud­den Prairie Grove was ahead, 28-20.

The game got even more wild — Lin­coln came back to tie score, 28-28; then Prairie Grove scored to go ahead, 35-28, with 36.7 sec­onds to go be­fore half­time.

“That’s the most points we scored this year in a game, but they scored fast,” said Prairie Grove coach Danny Ab­shier. “We didn’t score quite as fast, but any­way it’s a good ball­game. They had a good plan. They ex­e­cuted well. We ex­e­cuted pretty good, too. It was a great game. That’s what foot­ball is about.”

Lin­coln an­swered in light­ing-quick fash­ion, scor­ing with 14.9 sec­onds left in the first half on a 3-play, 67-yard drive.

Lloyd said the team mind­set pro­pelled the Wolves through ad­ver­sity en­abling them to stick to the task at hand.

“It was def­i­nitely get back at them, we were not los­ing this game,” Lloyd said. “Us se­niors talked about it. We were not los­ing to Prairie Grove no mat­ter what it took. If we had to give it all we had, that’s what we did.

At half­time, Prairie Grove led, 35-34, be­cause Lin­coln’s ex­tra-point kick was blocked.

Third quar­ter fea­tured 211 yards of of­fense and three touch­downs by Lin­coln and one by Prairie Grove.

In an ac­tion-packed con­test show­cas­ing ath­leti­cism and will to win by both teams one of the most spec­tac­u­lar feats was a catch made by Lin­coln re­ceiver Ster­ling Mor­phis.

The 35-yard touch­down pass from se­nior quar­ter­back Caleb Lloyd (24-of-31, 386 yards, 4 touch­downs) put the Wolves ahead for good at the 4:55 mark of the third quar­ter. Mor­phis made a leap­ing grab to give Lin­coln a 46-40 lead.

Lloyd said he de­lib­er­ately put the ball where only Mor­phis could catch it.

“I Know Ster­ling plays bas­ket­ball, he can get up,” Lloyd said. “I just knew he could get over the top of that guy.”

Mor­phis sold the play by fak­ing an in­side move, then el­e­vated to make the catch.

“The corner bit hard on the slant and I mist­imed the jump a lit­tle bit, I caught it on the way down,” Mor­phis said. “We needed that, too. We needed mo­men­tum.”

Lloyd was on the turf and didn’t see the end re­sult, but the roar of the crowd in­di­cated touch­down.

“I didn’t re­ally get to see the catch, I took a hit right after I threw it, but I have ab­so­lute trust in Mor­phis to come down with any ball I throw to him,” Lloyd said.

Lin­coln coach Don Har­ri­son is thrilled with the of­fen­sive pro­duc­tion.

“Ster­ling Mor­phis had a huge night, I’m so ex­cited for him,” Har­ri­son said. “And Cam Brown had a big night.”

Mor­phis had 172 yards on 7 catches, in­clud­ing 4 touch­downs. Tail­back Cam Brown racked up 173 rush­ing yards on 21 car­ries with 3 re­cep­tions for 42 yards. Noe Avel­laneda added 8 catches for 121 yards; Daytin Davis had 3 for 29 and Levi Wright 3 for 22.

Both teams scored in the fourth quar­ter. With Lin­coln lead­ing 59-48, Prairie Grove drove to Lin­coln’s 15 only to get in­ter­cepted by Mor­phis.

Lin­coln looked like they might run out the clock or score, but Lloyd had the ball pop out of his hands. Prairie Grove’s Jared Harger caught it out of the air and ran the ball back 65 yards for what looked like a touch­down with 36.1 sec­onds re­main­ing in the game.

Fans were think­ing if Prairie Grove goes for two points on the con­ver­sion and gets an on­side kick, they might get close enough to kick a field goal and send the game into over­time — but the the­atrics ended be­cause of a penalty on Prairie Grove.

The Tigers still had the ball, and an out­side chance — al­beit a long shot, with 36.1 sec­onds left and 77 yards away from the end zone. Prairie Grove piled up 547 yards of to­tal of­fense and reached Lin­coln’s 24 when time ex­pired.

Har­ri­son ap­pre­ci­ated the home­town sup­port.

“This was the best our stands have ever been,” Har­ri­son said. “I’ve been here four years. This is the big­gest turnout I think in our com­mu­nity in a long time. They were so loud, the bells and all the noise-mak­ers and the kids in the stands, as a player when you look up there and peo­ple are do­ing that; and ev­ery­body, and there’s not a seat to be found up there, peo­ple all along the fence and ev­ery time you score it’s just an erup­tion of noise, as a kid that just fills your heart and makes you play so much bet­ter. Man, we needed it, and this com­mu­nity, I think, felt that this was a chance to beat these guys, and 19 games-in-arow, 25 years since they beat them, so it’s huge and we did it.”

MARK HUMPHREY EN­TER­PRISE-LEADER

Lin­coln se­nior quar­ter­back Caleb Lloyd, chased out of the pocket by Prairie Grove de­fen­sive end James Mill­wood, scram­bled for 19 yards on this play. Lloyd was re­cently named to the “watch list” for Farm Bureau In­surance 4A of­fen­sive player of the year.

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