Lincoln East scored on a hook-and-ladder play with 1:49 left, then added another touchdown a minute later after an interception to upset fourth-ranked Millard West 21-13 Friday night before a crowd of 1,522 at Seacrest Field.
On third-and-10, East quarterback Devin Beckner hit Connor Riekenberg with a pass eight yards down the field on the left side. Riekenberg then pitched it to Blake Ingamells who finished off the 34-yard TD play and put the Spartans ahead 14-13.
“We’d been saving that play and we called it at the perfect time,” Ingamells said. “The timing was there. Devin threw a great pass and Connor got off a great pitch that I could take to the house.”
Riekenberg said he could “feel the pressure of the defender coming down on me. I knew I had to get rid of it, fortunately I got it to him (Ingamells) in stride.”
Ingamells then intercepted a Millard West pass on the next possession and A.J. Muthersbaugh iced the East win with a 13-yard TD run on the next play with 49 seconds left. Ingamells, a 5-foot-11, 180 pound senior, intercepted another Millard West pass with 20 seconds left to ignite the celebration in the student section.
“Our guys never quit,” said East coach John Gingery, whose team trailed 13-0 at halftime. “We told them that if we kept it close and put ourselves in a position to win the game at the end, something good could happen. We’ve been close a lot this year and it feels good to win a game like this.
“We beat a great football team tonight,” Gingery added. “They have a lot of size and a lot of speed, but we found a way to get it done.”
East improves to 5-3 with its fourth straight win, while Millard West falls to 6-2.
It took awhile for the Wildcat offense to get going. They fumbled a handoff on their first play from scrimmage, which the Spartans’ Riekenberg pounced on at the Millard West 41.
East, however, was unable to pick up a first down in that possession, and that turned out to be the Spartans’ best scoring opportunity in the first half.
After a scoreless opening quarter, the Wildcats scored on back-to-back possessions midway through the second quarter to take a 13-0 lead into intermission.
A 31-yard touchdown burst up the middle on third-and-7 by Jackson Wright capped a 69-yard, six-play march. Millard West then drove 87 yards in seven plays with quarterback Tristan Gomes covering the final 34 yards on a keeper.
Gomes hit Logan Taft with a 37-yard pass to get the Wildcats out of their own territory.
East cut the deficit to 13-7 on its first possession of the second half. A 33-yard pass from Beckner to Sam Vernon put the Spartans in position for a 13-yard TD pass on a fade pattern to 6-foot-5 Zach Clausen, who was the starting quarterback at the beginning of the season.
Millard West did not score in the second half and managed just one first down after intermission. The Wildcats hurt themselves with five penalties and three turnovers in the second half. Two of the holding penalties wiped out runs of 27 and 40 yards.
“We had to get back to assignment football against their option game,” Gingery said. “Once we did that, we did a better job shutting down their running game.”
Millard West failed to catch a break late holding on to its six-point lead.
One play before the hook-and-ladder touchdown, it appeared Millard West had put the Spartans in a huge hole. Beckner was under heavy pressure near midfield and barely got a short pass off while he was in the grasp of a Wildcat defender near midfield.
The officials originally threw a flag for intentionally grounding, but after discussing it, picked it up, giving East a third-and-10 at the Millard West 34 instead of a third-and-31.
LINCOLN EAST 21, MILLARD WEST 13
MW--Wright 31 run (Fedde kick)
MW--Gomes 34 run (kick failed)
LE--Clausen 13 pass from Beckner (Jeffrey kick)
LE--Ingamells 26 pass from Beckner (Jeffrey kick)
LE--Muthersbaugh 13 run (Jeffrey kick)
RUSHING--Millard West – Wright 11-77, Gomes 11-87, Sullivan 11-56, Team 1-(-17). Lincoln East – Ingamells 5-12, Lankas 2-0, Br. Sellon 2-3, Muthersbaugh 8-23, Beckner 12-(-15), Riekenberg 1-16, Team 1-(-3).
PASSING--Millard West – Gomes 7-18-2, 84. Lincoln East – Beckner 12-17-1, 180.
RECEIVING--Millard West – Beanum 3-35, Taft 2-48, Sullivan 2-1. Lincoln East – Br. Sellon 1-22, Spethman 1-29, Stoppel 4-37, Carpenter 1-7, Vernon 2-41, Clausen 1-13, Muthersbaugh 1-(-3), Riekenberg 1-8, Ingamells no reception, 26 yards.