Saturday, September 17, 2011
Sports News

Railers beat Lanphier 34-28 for 1st win

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[September 17, 2011]  Three yards from victory.

That was the situation the Lincoln Railer offense found themselves in on the final play of Friday night's dramatic showdown with Springfield Lanphier.

On this night, Andy Krusz was up to the task.

Behind a earth-rattling push from his offensive line, the Lincoln senior running back pounded his way into the end zone, delivering the Railers a 34-28 victory and setting off a jubilant celebration.

Going from 0-3 to 1-3 was certainly a big deal for this season's Railer squad.

"It's a blast. It's very exciting," said Lincoln head coach Andy McDonald. "It feels great, but even if we'd have come up short, we would be extremely proud of the effort and for playing as hard as we did. To get down by a couple scores and then battle back, it was a great effort."

It was a game with numerous swings in momentum.

The Railers got off on the wrong foot, allowing the Lions to take a 12-0 lead on a highlight-reel 95-yard touchdown run by running back Everett Clemons.

Then Lincoln righted its ship, scoring 12 unanswered points to force a tie going into halftime.

The Railers got the ball to open the second half and capped a lengthy drive with a 5-yard touchdown run from senior Moses Rogers to take the lead. An extra point from Logan Armbruster put Lincoln ahead 19-12.

The Lions fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving the Railers the ball deep in Lanphier territory. But a fumbled snap gave the ball back to the Lions, who would capitalize on the opportunity when Clemons again struck pay dirt. A failed two-point conversion allowed the Railers to maintain the lead at 19-18.

Lincoln would extend its lead to 26-18 on a James Leisinger touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. But, when Lanphier receiver Anthony Hunter pulled down a pass in the end zone over a Lincoln defender and a successful two-point conversion attempt from Clemons followed, the game was tied up halfway through the final quarter.

The Railers put together a drive that got them into Lion territory and then stalled. Lincoln successfully executed on special teams at the drive's end, with a Krusz punt being downed at the 1-yard line, leaving Lanphier with 99 yards to go.

Behind another string of lengthy runs by Clemons, the Lions got out to midfield. Faced with a fourth-and-short situation, Lanphier gambled, only to see Lincoln senior Zac Schleder wrap up Clemons, turning the ball over to the Railers at midfield with just over a minute left to play.

The combination of Leisinger and Armbruster came up big in crunch-time for Lincoln, connecting on 24- and 25-yard receptions in the final minute.

With 3.4 seconds left and from 9 yards out, Leisinger rolled to his right and sought Armbruster again in the end zone for the would-be game-winner. His attempt was incomplete, but two penalties on the play -- pass interference and roughing the passer -- placed the ball at the 3-yard line with no time remaining, setting up Krusz's epic touchdown run.

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McDonald said he could have gone several different directions on the final play, but ultimately, Krusz -- the hardest Railer to tackle thus far this season -- proved to be his top option

"The way the guys ran tonight, I think we had several options," said McDonald. "Guys ran hard and were getting pads down.

"But obviously, based on what Andy's done so far, he'd probably be at the top of that list."

"When I heard it was 33 dive, I got excited," said Krusz. "It's three yards. I knew I could probably get it. Especially with our line, the way they played, they did a fantastic job all night -- especially pass-blocking. There on that last drive, we had a couple deep passes and we ran outside, which helped us a lot. The last couple games, the defense had focused on inside."

Specifically on the outside, the Railers benefited from the arrival of senior Moses Rogers, who had missed the season's first three games after an athletic code violation. Rogers rushed 16 times for 111 yards, which included a 30-yard touchdown run.

Krusz finished with 13 attempts for 52 yards with two touchdowns, while Schleder added 57 yards on 12 attempts with a touchdown.

Leisinger enjoyed his best game of the season, completing 8 of 12 passing attempts for 170 yards while also rushing seven times for 20 yards and a touchdown. Five of Leisinger's completions were to Armbruster, who finished with 118 yards.

In the losing effort, Clemons finished with 328 yards on 30 attempts while scoring three Lanphier touchdowns

The Lincoln defense was led by Dane Eimer, who finished with eight tackles. Schleder and Connor Schmidt also added seven tackles.

Without a doubt, it was another step in the right direction for the Railers in the aftermath of last week's narrow loss to Jacksonville.

"Aggressiveness comes from confidence. I think we played really hard last week against a very good team in Jacksonville," said McDonald. "That gave us confidence that we could play with anybody.

"I felt like we came out tonight and took it up another level. I think we took another couple steps forward."   


Justin Tierney's Railer football reports

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