That was the situation the Lincoln Railer offense found themselves
in on the final play of Friday night's dramatic showdown with
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
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
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
"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."
[By JUSTIN TIERNEY]
Justin Tierney's Railer football reports