The Lincoln East defense fell short of another shutout in Week 2, but the Spartans front still had Lincoln Northeast’s running game moving in the wrong direction.
East had 15 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and held the Rockets to minus-31 yards rushing on its way to a 41-7 victory Friday at Seacrest Field.
Including a 23-0 win at Lincoln Pius X last Friday to open the season, “I’m really pleased with how our defensive line has played the last two weeks,” said East coach John Gingery, who started seniors Jett Janssen (6-foot-5, 250 pounds), Joey Adkisson (6-2, 235), Trevor Jeffrey (6-0, 340) and junior Jacob Rien (6-1, 205) on the defensive line against Northeast (0-2).
“It sets the tone for everyone else and it makes it easier for our linebackers and secondary to make plays.”
East (2-0) led 21-0 at halftime after Northeast had minus-49 yards rushing, gave up seven quarterback sacks and a pair of fumbles that the Spartans turned into touchdowns.
Two plays after Northeast pounced on a Spartan fumble at the Rocket 7-yard line on their opening possession, the Spartans’ Jeffrey secured a Northeast fumble on the 8, and running back Billie Stephenson scored on the next play.
Later in the opening period, a 30-yard punt return by East's DeKendrick McCray set up a 10-yard TD run by quarterback Austin Schneider, who had 78 of his game-high 109 yards in the first half. East finished the contest with 261 yards on the ground.
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East’s Will Kroeker fell on a Northeast shot gun snap that went awry at the Northeast 38, and the Spartans capitalized eight plays later on a 2-yard TD run by Jack Larson with 4:04 left in the first half.
Larson later added a 40-yard TD run around right end with 5:16 left in the third quarter and another from 4 yards out to increase the margin to 35-0 with 1:43 left in the period. A 46-yard punt return for a TD by McCray in the first minute of the fourth quarter made it 41-0.
McCray, a junior, finished with 100 punt-return yards.
Northeast took its next possession 80 yards in 11 plays with a 12-yard TD pass from quarterback Jeremiah Collier to senior wide receiver Jesston Howard capping it. Collier finished 12 of 17 passing for 184 yards with Howard catching five of those throws for 87 yards.
“Our linemen did a better job as the game went on giving (Collier) more time to throw, he made some nice reads and Jess (Howard) had some outstanding catches,” Northeast coach Dan Martin said. “We need to work on finishing drives. We had some other opportunities to score that we just couldn’t get the play we needed to keep the drive going.”