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Lutheran marches down field late behind Ringler's reception to turn tide against Centennial

Lutheran marches down field late behind Ringler's reception to turn tide against Centennial

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With 1 minute, 31 seconds left in the game and 99 yards to go to overcome Centennial’s 17-14 lead, things were looking bleak for Lincoln Lutheran.

But 1 minute, 31 seconds later, the Warriors walked off the field with a 21-17 win thanks to a spark by Zach Ringler at Lutheran High School on Friday night.

Quarterback Josh Duitsman hit the senior receiver in stride for an 89-yard gain down to the Broncos’ 10-yard line. Three plays later, Duitsman threw a touchdown pass to Johnny Puelz, which was Puelz’s second score of the game.

The Warriors then withstood a last-second Centennial drive to hold on for the win.

Driving the length of the field in 1:31 is a difficult task under any circumstance, and Lutheran had not fared so well in the same situation earlier in the week.

In a situational drill in practice Wednesday, the Warriors had botched the play from the same spot on the field.

“Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong,” Lutheran coach Greg Nelson said about the drill.

But with corrections in place, the team executed when it mattered and pulled off a much-needed win to move to 3-5 on the season.

“We called that same play at the same spot, we executed it perfectly, Zach got it all the way down to the 10 and we scored from there,” Nelson said. “The kids bounced back, they learned from their mistakes, and that’s all you can ask for as a coach.”

Lutheran had to come from 10 points down in the second half to pull off the win. Centennial quarterback Cooper Gierhan rushed for two scores and kicked a 26-yard field goal to account for all of his team’s points.

The Warriors closed the gap on a 14-play drive that ended with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Duitsman to Puelz to begin the fourth quarter. Though they weren’t able to score again until their go-ahead touchdown with 19 seconds left, they forced the Broncos (3-5) into three punts.

The final punt was a beauty from Gierhan, who put it at the 1-yard line. But Lutheran overcame that obstacle right away with the long pass play to Ringer.

Centennial threatened in the final seconds after Lutheran’s go-ahead score. Gierhan completed a pair of passes to Jake Bargen, and a pass interference penalty gave them the ball in the red zone with 1 second left. But Gierhan’s final throw fell incomplete.

“We’ve played a bunch of top-10 teams all over the place, and we’ve had our moments where we’ve been as good as all of them,” Nelson said of his team’s effort. “I hope we can build off of it and take it into next week.”


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