It couldn't have looked any dimmer for Lincoln Southeast in the fourth quarter, but the Knights found a way to light up the night.
The Knights overcame a second-and-41 to score, blocked a punt to set up another score and then when Lincoln East battled back, Southeast got an interception near the goal line to hold off the Spartans 14-12 Friday at Seacrest Field.
"We were fortunate enough to get out of that situation and we were able to swing the momentum our way," said Southeast coach Ryan Gottula. "This was two teams just playing their hearts out. East has an outstanding defense.
"We had an increased emphasis on defense this week, getting to the football. Kids came up and made plays at the end of the game when they had to."
Trailing 6-0, Southeast turned to some razzle-dazzle after surviving the long-yardage situation. Quarterback Jampe' Gergen flipped the ball to Brehan Lambert, who tossed it back to Gergen. He launched a 35-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Isaac Gifford and Jackson Doty's kick gave the Knights a 7-6 lead.
The Southeast defense forced a punt and Trysten Neiman broke through to block it and the Knights pounced on it at the 1-yard line, setting up Gergen's sneak for a 14-6 lead.
"We'd gotten close a couple of times before and I just tried my hardest to get through," said Neiman. East punted eight times in the game, six in the first half.
The Spartans' Luke Spethman had a 42-yard pass from Zach Clausen deflected into his hands and two plays later, Blake Ingamells scored from the 2-yard line. But Gage Johnson applied pressure, chasing Clausen on the two-point conversion and Clausen's pass fell short.
The Spartans appeared to have the advantage when Barrett Sellon recovered a Knight fumble and returned it to the 15-yard line, but three plays later, Isaac Appleget picked off a pass near the goal line and the Knights all but ran out the clock.
"I expected them to go to the goal line and coaches put us in the right place to succeed," said Appleget. "East had us on our heels and we finally got some momentum."
After a scoreless first half, East got things going to open the second half, but couldn't capitalize when Clausen connected with Kaleb Brady for a 39- yard pickup. But the play helped turn the field on Southeast and East took advantage the next time the Spartans got the ball. A.J. Muthersbaugh made a diving catch for a first down and two plays later, Clausen found Sam Vernon for an 8-yard score and a 6-0 lead.
LINCOLN SOUTHEAST 14, LINCOLN EAST 12
LE--Ingamells 8 pass from Clausen (kick failed)
LSE--Gifford 35 pass from Gergen (Doty kick)
LSE--Gergen 1 run (Doty kick)
LE--Ingamells 2 run (pass failed)
RUSHING--LE, Muthersbaugh 13-48, Lankas 13-26, Ingamells 8-14, Clausen 9-20, Neemann 2-3; LSE, Davis 12-62, Gergen 14-30, Gifford 4-3, Lambert 1-minus 8.
PASSING--LE, Clausen 7-16-1, 125 yards; Riekenberg 1-1-0, 11 yards; LSE, Gergen 15-24-1, 113 yards.
RECEIVING--LE, Carpenter 2-18, Brady 1-39, Muthersbaugh 2-18, Vwernon 1-8, Clausen 1-11, Spethman 1-42; LSE, Gifford 2-37, Lambert 7-16, Anderson 3-42, Appleget 1-4, Detlefsen 1-8, Branch 1-6.