Lincoln Southwest fans held their breath for one last play Friday, then could heave a sigh of relief.
Class A No. 10 Southwest survived a Hail Mary pass as time ran out to post a 14-9 victory against No. 9 Lincoln North Star at Seacrest Field before a crowd of 3,305.
North Star recovered a fumble with 1:09 left in the game, but an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty after the recovery and a illegal-procedure call on the first play pushed the Gators back to their 41-yard line. Two scrambles by quarterback Brook Bolles netted 9 yards, but then Christian Lacouture sacked Bolles for a 5-yard loss, setting up the desperation play with eight seconds left.
The Hail Mary pass went in and out of Nate Tederman’s hands at the Southwest 2 as time expired.
“When you look up what a first game is in Wikipedia, they should have a picture of this,” Southwest coach Mark King said. “Our kids played hard and our defense really did well even though time after time we put their backs to the wall.”
Josh Banderas nearly single-handedly put Southwest on top. On the Silver Hawks’ first drive of the game, Banderas ran for 4, 2, 33 and 29 yards before scoring on a 1-yard run. He finished the game with 144 yards on just 12 carries.
“That brings back the glory days. That’s what got me, the fast tempo early,” said Banderas, who battled cramps the rest of the game, limiting his carries. “I was laying on my back getting rolled and could hear the crowd and all I wanted to do was jump up and get back in there.
“I’m not used to this workload. But I’ll drink more water and maybe get some bananas. I can’t sit on the sideline and watch.”
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North Star coach Mark Waller said the Gators expected Banderas to be a factor.
“With their size up front, their tight ends and Josh in the backfield, we knew they’d pound at us,” Waller said. “We kept the ball away from them in the first half pretty well. We just have to finish drives.”
North Star cut the deficit to 7-3 on a 30-yard field goal by Alex Stogdill just before halftime.
Southwest turned to Banderas again in the third quarter. He had a 21-yard gain, then scored on a 6-yard run midway through the period.
Three times after that, the Gators came up short on fourth-down plays, each one just short of the marker.
“We had a lot of missed opportunities on offense,” Waller said. “We had a holding penalty that stopped one drive and an offsides on first-and-goal. We need to eliminate that stuff.”
Austin Rose led North Star with 102 yards on 28 carries, while Bolles threw for 105 yards and ran for 34.
The Navigators played the game without star running back Michael Minter, who was on the sidelines but not in uniform.