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By: Corey Stott
LINCOLN, Mo.- 9/17/21- It was the perfect storm: a long, three hour and forty-five minute road trip south of Sedalia; an unusually hot and humid mid-September day; a bus without air-conditioning; a depleted squad at practice all week long; an opponent eager to get a win to stay above .500. All of these ingredients blended together into a witch’s brew that saw Scotland County suffer through a 34- 12 loss on the road in non-conference action that saw the Lincoln Cardinals have their way with the Tigers offensively all night long.
The Cardinals took the opening kick-off and started with excellent field position at their own 48-yard line. On the third play of the series, Lincoln’s junior quarterback Conner Lynde hit his big tight end junior Mack Hesse on a seam route down the left hash for a 44-yard gain that left the Cardinals with 1st and goal at the Tiger one-yard line. Big junior tailback Ross Johnson dove into the end-zone with 10:24 to play in the 1st quarter. A scrambling left led to a completed pass to Xavier Smith for the two-point conversion. The Cardinals led 8-0.
Scotland was held three and out on their opening drive. Hayden Long had a terrific punt to pin the Cardinals at their own two-yard line to start their second drive.
Lincoln used a balanced mix of Johnson pounding it on the ground and Lynde passing to open targets running open downfield to move the ball against the seemingly lost Tiger defense. The drive was capped off with a Johnson 46-yard touchdown run over the right side with 5:08 to play in the 1st quarter. The two-point attempt was no good and Lincoln led 14-0.
An exasperated Coach Troy Carper desperately tried to get his team to shake off the apparent jet lag and show the fire and energy they had displayed through the first three weeks of the season. His squad seemed to respond, as they started their next drive at their own 46-yard line and moved the ball until they had 1st and goal from the Cardinal six-yard line. But a false start penalty immediately pushed the Tigers back and they could not overcome the hole they had dug. Scotland County turned the ball over on downs on 4th and goal at the three after an incomplete pass intended for Alex Long with just under two minutes remaining in the 1st period.
The Tiger defense finally seemed to stiffen a bit and held the Cardinals to three and out on their ensuing possession. Scotland had the ball with just under a minute in the quarter and excellent field position to start at the Lincoln 19-yard line. The Tigers got to 1st and goal at the seven, but were unable to punch it in and turned it over on downs with 9:20 to play in the half.
The Cardinals then went on a clock-killing drive that began at their own five-yard line and consisted of 17 plays. The drive was capped off with a 4th and 10 at the Tiger 23-yard line that looked like Lynde was hemmed in and going to be sacked. But as he scrambled to his left, he found an open Hesse in the end zone for the touchdown. The two-point dive by Johnson was good and suddenly Lincoln had a 22-0 lead which they would take into the halftime locker room.
The Tigers received the ball to start the second half, but went three and out. Both teams then traded possessions and punts.
The second Cardinal drive of the half began at their own 40-yard line and featured a 41-yard pass play to the left flat to Darren Roberts. That play set up an eventual 1st and goal from the Tiger six-yard line that saw Lynde keep it himself for the touchdown with 3:29 to play in the 3rd quarter. The two-point attempt was no good and the Cardinals had a commanding 28-0 lead.
Scotland County finally broke onto the scoreboard on the next drive. The Tigers began on their own 49-yard line and used the RPO effectively to get to a 2nd and seven from the Cardinal 25- yard line. Alex Long busted a big run off the right side to the end zone and the Tigers trailed 28-6 with 1:10 left in the 3rd quarter. The two-point try was no good.
The Cardinals then put together another eight-play clock killer that culminated in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Lynde to Roberts with 8:04 left to play. The two-point attempt was stuffed at the point of attack, and the Cardinals led 34-6.
Scotland County then got their hands on the ball for what would turn out to be the final time. The Tigers put together an impressive 11-play touchdown drive that began at their own 39-yard line. Alex Long made a tough run on 1st and goal from the nine to set up a 1-yard dive by Trayton Buckallew for the score with 3:01 remaining. The two-point attempt was no good and it was 34-12 Lincoln. The Cardinals would run the clock out on the next drive and the score became a final.
After the game, a visibly exasperated Coach Carper gave his thoughts on the disappointing finish. “I don’t make any excuses. It was a long trip on a school bus with no air and it’s hot. But we’re not making excuses. We told them before we left the school that we’re not making any excuses.”
He added that the team had faced an additional challenge in trying to prepare for Lincoln during the week. “We only had 15 kids at practice this week. There’s a lot of things going on right now. We couldn’t get a good look, we couldn’t do a lot of things. This is probably in my however many years I’ve been here the lowest number of people I’ve had at practice this week.”
Asked what positives his team could take from this game, he replied, “You know, we did some good things, but then we had a lot of self-inflicted injuries… a lot of missed tackles, a lot of missed blocks, penalties… just things you can’t come in against a team like this and do that kind of stuff. We had opportunities in the first half and couldn’t capitalize.”
Scotland County had 143 yards total offense for the night. Lincoln had 404 yards total offense. The Tigers did not complete a pass on the night, while Lincoln went 8/16 for 191 and 2 touchdowns.
Alex Long was the leading rusher for the Tigers with 12 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown. Hayden Long carried 13 times for 30 yards. Buckallew had six carries for 19 yards and a touchdown, Riley Small four carries for 10 yards, and Jadin Fuller with two carries for three yards.