See You Later, Ci­cada

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - SPORTS WEEK - Mark Humphrey Game Jour­nal

A ci­cada bug landed on Keys, Okla. head foot­ball coach Mitchell Crit­ten­den Thurs­day night dur­ing a ju­nior high game at Lin­coln’s Wolf­pack Sta­dium.

He left the in­sect on his sleeve for good luck, fi­nally brush­ing it off as he walked off the field fol­low­ing the ju­nior high game al­though some of his play­ers sug­gested he keep it.

“I’m not tak­ing that thing with me,” Crit­ten­den said, while not­ing, “It’ll be tougher to­mor­row,” re­fer­ring to Fri­day when Keys hosted Lin­coln in non­con­fer­ence var­sity ac­tion.

Crit­ten­den was im­pressed with what he had seen of the Lin­coln var­sity on film and in scout­ing re­ports.

“They’re scary, they do a lot of things,” Crit­ten­den said, de­scrib­ing the Wolves’ run-pass op­tion of­fense that clicks off play-af­ter-play seek­ing to es­tab­lish a rhythm and keep a de­fense on its heels try­ing to ad­just and ac­count for every­thing Lin­coln has go­ing.

His worst fears were re­al­ized Fri­day. Lin­coln ex­ploded for 26 points in the sec­ond quar­ter build­ing a 40-0 third quar­ter lead as Wolves’ coach Don Har­ri­son se­cured his first var­sity vic­tory over Keys, Okla., since the se­ries be­gan in 2014, with a 40-7 tri­umph.

“Chris­tian Sell­ers, whose filling in for (in­jured senior tail­back) Cam Brown (out two to three more weeks), he opened the game with a 50-yard run,” Har­ri­son said. “Last sea­son we’d get down by two touch­downs be­fore we’d get go­ing. We’ve been harp­ing on them all off-sea­son long about start­ing fast and they did.”

Lin­coln’s first touch­down was set up by Sell­ers, who took a hand­off from quar­ter­back Caleb Lloyd near the Wolves’ 19. Bid­ding, “see you later,” to the Cougars’ de­fen­sive front, Sell­ers ran the sweep right, turned the corner and wasn’t caught un­til the Cougar senior Kaden Gower, who had an an­gle, man­aged to knock him out-of-bounds at Keys’ 31.

“He had a huge hole,” Har­ri­son said. “He did a re­ally good job of be­ing pa­tient and wait­ing for the hole to develop, then ex­plod­ing into it. Our of­fen­sive line blocked re­ally well. It was a heck­uva way to start the game. Noah Moore, our start­ing cen­ter, he climbed up to the line­backer and blocked him in the mid­dle of the field send­ing him about 15 yards down­field.”

Bradley Drain capped off the 7-play drive with a 2-yard touch­down run. Lin­coln, which out­gained Keys 331 to 155 in total of­fense, led 7-0 af­ter the first quar­ter.

“I’m re­ally proud of the way both our of­fen­sive and de­fen­sive line con­trolled the line of scrim­mage,” Har­ri­son said. “They (Keys, Okla.) had some big ol’ boys. They were way big­ger than our boys, but they couldn’t get a push on us on de­fense. Our scout team gave them a good look in prac­tice, show­ing them ex­actly what they were go­ing to run. Of­fen­sive line blocked well. Caleb didn’t come close to getting sacked. Our re­ceivers were seven yards off the line of scrim­mage be­fore their de­fen­sive line would even get up.”

The sec­ond quar­ter surge started

with Lloyd’s 20-yard pass to sopho­more tight end Levi Wright in­side the Keys 10. On sec­ond and goal from the six, Lloyd ran a play-ac­tion fak­ing a hand­off while Wright floated open in the end zone where Lloyd found him for Lin­coln’s sec­ond touch­down.

“The boys were like, ‘hey, if we do this, they’re go­ing to jump,’” Har­ri­son said. “We lis­tened to them. Some­times, you got to lis­ten to the boys.”

With the Wolves lead­ing 14-0 a shot­gun snap went over the head of the Keys’ quar­ter­back on first down from the 28. Lin­coln’s Hunter Phe­lan led the de­fen­sive charge, but he over­shot a div­ing at­tempt to pounce on it. Chris­tian Crit­ten­den ap­peared to re­cover the fum­ble in end zone for a de­fen­sive touch­down as the game started to snow­ball.

“We thought it was a touch­down, but they marked it at the one,” Har­ri­son said.

Crit­ten­den (5-9, 225), who trans­fered from Row­land, Okla., ran the ball in for a 1-yard touch­down.

Lin­coln struck twice more be­fore half­time with Ster­ling Mor­phis reel­ing in a 48-yard touch­down pass from Lloyd. Run­ning stride-for-stride with a de­fender, Mor­phis made the catch and ran un­hin­dered the fi­nal 15 yards as the de­fen­sive back fell. Wright added a 2-yard touch­down re­cep­tion from Lloyd in the fi­nal minute of the half to give Lin­coln a com­mand­ing 33-0 lead at in­ter­mis­sion.

“It was one of those things we thought we caught them in some­thing good,” Har­ri­son said. “They boys were telling us some­thing was there and it was.”

In the third quar­ter Lin­coln scored on Crit­ten­den’s 2-yard rush up the mid­dle to stretch its ad­van­tage to 40-0. Keys avoided a shutout when Levi Troyer caught a touch­down pass from Lane Tay­lor as the third wore down.

“Our de­fense did re­ally good,” Har­ri­son said. “It’s two weeks in a row we haven’t al­lowed a touch­down with our start­ing de­fense. The boys are play­ing hard, do­ing what we ask them to do. We just got to keep getting bet­ter.”

The 2-0 start is Lin­coln’s best since 2013. Next up the Wolves travel to Su­bi­aco Academy (1-1). The Tro­jans beat Lavaca, 20-12, in their sea­son-opener, but lost 34-12 to La­mar last week. This sea­son the Tro­jans haven’t run the ball well. They have gained 251 yards on 76 at­temps for a 3.3 av­er­age. Su­bi­aco com­pleted 6-of-11 passes for 150 yards and a touch­down against La­mar af­ter a 3-for-9 show­ing and 37 yards against Lavaca. MARK HUMPHREY IS A SPORTS REPORTER FOR THE ENTERPRISELEADER.

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