Monday, September 02, 2013
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Jacksonville Crimsons and the heat prove to be too much for the Railers

By Scott Kirby

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[September 02, 2013]  As the Lincoln Railers and the Jacksonville Crimsons took the field on this hot and steamy Friday night at Handlin Field, you couldn't help but notice the physical size difference between the Railers and the Crimsons. Jacksonville's line averages about 270 pounds, while Lincoln's line averages about 232 pounds, so to say Lincoln was undersized is an understatement. Jacksonville is considered one of the top teams in the Central State Eight, with athletes and playmakers across the board.

The Lincoln Railers won the opening toss and elected to receive to start the game. The Railers were able to move the ball a little on their first possession but stalled out, and Jacksonville took over.

Justin Herron put up the first points for Jacksonville with a long run to the end zone with 8:06 left in the first quarter. Zack Dewitt added the extra point to make the score 7-0.

Lincoln's next offensive possession didn't fare too well either. The Railers were held to a 3-and-out and were forced to punt deep into their own territory. Grant Cooper couldn't handle the high snap from Ethan Kunkel and was forced to kick the ball out the back of the Railers' own end zone, which resulted in a safety for Jacksonville. The Crimsons had a 9-0 lead with 5:51 to go in the first quarter.

Lincoln could not get the offense going, and Jacksonville was able to take advantage. On the Crimsons' following possession, Jacksonville quarterback Zac Lonergan hooked up with wide receiver Kody Wood on a long touchdown pass for the second score on the night. Dewitt's point after was good, and just like that, Jacksonville took a 16-0 lead over the Railers with 5:02 left in the first quarter.

Kick returner Brent Metelko gave the Railers good field position as he was able to return the kickoff for a big return. With the good position, Lincoln was able to move the ball via run and pass.

The Railers were forced to take a timeout to regroup and catch their breath as well as rehydrate, which seemed nearly impossible on this hot, humid and muggy Friday night.

On their next play after the timeout, quarterback Austin Krusz threw a pass over the middle to Metelko. Metelko was able to make a few moves and cuts to cross the goal line and give the Railers their first touchdown of the year, but more important, draw closer to the Crimsons. The Railers then lined up to attempt a 2-point conversion, but they weren't able to execute the play from what looked like a fumbled snap between the center and the quarterback.

Jacksonville answered with a decent kick return of their own. And with 1:51 to go in the first quarter, Jacksonville running back No. 32 Justin Herron scored his second touchdown of the quarter with a long run off the left side of the field. Dewitt missed the extra point, and the first quarter finally came to an end with a score of 22-6.

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The second quarter didn't start very well either. Running back Metelko was unable to play the rest of the game due to heat exhaustion. And on Lincoln's first possession in the second quarter, Krusz threw an interception to Lonergan of Jacksonville. Lonergan was stopped just short of the goal line on the return. However, he was able to plow his way over the goal line on a quarterback sneak with 9:23 left in the second. The extra point was good, and Jacksonville extended their lead to 29-6.

Lincoln's second possession of the second quarter didn't produce any results, and the Railers were forced to punt again.

From then on it was all Jacksonville. They scored again with 6:36 to go in the first half on a pass from Bryce Schnitker to Dillon Pennell. The point after was good, to make the score 36-6.

Jacksonville would go on and score two more times before the half. One of the touchdowns was a return of a blocked punt, and the other was a pass to Division I recruit Blake Hance. The score at halftime was 49-6.

When the Railers returned from their halftime break, they were without two of their key starters. Center Ethan Kunkel had a hand injury, possibly a broken bone, and will have X-rays. Shawn Cannon couldn't continue in the second half due to cramping. The trainers worked on him all second half to try to get him back in the game but were unsuccessful.

The third and fourth quarters went by real fast because of a high school rule that when a team is up by 40 points or more, there will be a running clock.

Jacksonville finished the scoring with a rushing TD from Joe Brannan to make the final score 56-6.

Although the scoreboard didn't show it, there were a lot of bright spots for the Lincoln Railer football squad.

Coach Andy McDonald said he thought his team "played hard and competed, but was just outmatched by a bigger, stronger and faster team."

McDonald was also pleased with how kids stepped up to fill in some of the positions that were vacated due to injuries.

The Lincoln Railers travel to Memorial Stadium in Springfield next Friday, Sept. 6, to take on the Lanphier Lions. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.


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