But, in the aftermath of a disappointing 48-0 defeat, it was fairly
clear that no amount of time could have prepared the Railers for the
speed and explosiveness of the Crimson offense.
Jacksonville was a bigger, stronger, faster and deeper team than
Lincoln. On this night, the Crimsons capitalized on all of those
advantages, while the Railers struggled to catch up.
"We expected them to be a very tough team," said an impressed
Lincoln head coach Andy McDonald. "They're physical up front.
They're obviously very big and strong kids. And, then, they've got a
championship-caliber 4x100 relay team on their team as well.
"We've got to be able to execute the best that we can. We've got
to get guys flying to the ball. I felt like we played pretty hard.
But we can play harder. We can be more aggressive than what we were
at times. We had a lot of guys who played their hearts out there
tonight. But, really, it boils down to that we're just not as
athletic as them."
After multiple penalties stalled would-be promising offensive
drives, the Railers fell behind early, trailing 21-0 after the first
The lack of continuity on offense had a snowball effect, as
Lincoln failed to execute its game plan to keep the Jacksonville
offense off the field. Instead, the Crimsons made the best of
multiple scoring opportunities and took a 35-0 lead into halftime.
The early struggles on offense -- and especially the penalties --
"We had a couple drives that were beginning to materialize. We
had one with a first down called back on a penalty. The other drive
there, we had a big holding penalty," the coach said. "Those are the
things, obviously, we can‘t put ourselves in that position. That
makes a big difference, when we get a good, positive yardage play
and have it called back on a penalty."
Although the outcome was decided early, the Railers were able to
string one impressive drive together late in the fourth quarter.
But, Lincoln failed to convert on a first-and-goal from the 6-yard
line, and Jacksonville kept its shutout intact.
"We did some good things there late," said McDonald. "We saw some
different blocking schemes, made some adjustments that I think
helped a little bit. But we've got a lot to work on."
The majority of the damage to the Railer defense was done by
Crimson speedster Reggie Bratton. Bratton caught five passes for 142
yards and two touchdowns and also ran for 104 yards and a score.
"There is just no way for us to practice against somebody who is
that fast and quick," said McDonald of Bratton's speed. "We can't
simulate it. We can't talk guys into tackling him. Their desire is
there to tackle him; he's just too fast and quick. It's hard to get
a good wrap on him."
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Lincoln's offense was limited to just 109 yards of total
offense. The Railers had 63 rushing yards on 34 total attempts,
led by 44 yards from Anthony Cannon on nine attempts and 20
yards from Cody Heidbreder on seven attempts.
New quarterback Austin Krusz showed flashes in the passing game,
completing 4 of 9 attempts for 66 yards. Dane Eimer led Lincoln with
two catches for 31 yards.
Krusz showed solid velocity on his passes and a bit of
elusiveness, more than once evading oncoming Crimson defenders to
"I was impressed. I saw some good bounce in his step," said
McDonald of his quarterback's first start. "He showed a positive
attitude in the huddle, with his teammates. Austin is a smart kid, a
very hard worker. He's just going to keep getting better."
The top objective now for the Railers will be to forget about
Next week, the Railers will have their home opener against the
Lions of Springfield Lanphier.
The games between the Lions and Railers have been extremely
competitive in recent years. Last season, Lincoln defeated Lanphier
by a score of 32-26.
If the Railers hope to repeat that outcome, there will be no time
to mourn the disappointing season-opener.
"I don't think our guys will hold their heads," said McDonald. "I
know our older guys won't, and I don't think they'll let the younger
guys do that. It's easy to do that, coming out of a game like this,
with the score so lopsided.
"It's probably a good thing that they're dejected a little bit,
that they feel bad. But they've got to be young men, learn to get
over it, and move on and work hard. Keep doing the things they've
[By JUSTIN TIERNEY]
Justin Tierney's Railer football reports