LINCOLN — A fast start on both sides of the ball gave Lincoln Southeast an opening-round playoff victory over Bellevue West on Friday at Seacrest Field.
No. 2 Southeast recovered a fumble on the opening play of the game, scoring two plays later, and scored on its first three offensive possessions in a 45-14 win over the Thunderbirds.
Jordan Ackerman recovered a fumble on the first play from scrimmage for the Knights (9-1), giving them the ball at the Thunderbird 12. Devin Washington scored two plays later on a 6-yard run, setting the tone for a near-perfect first quarter for the Knights.
Najee Jackson hit Devonte Madlock on a 17-yard touchdown toss on Southeast's next possession, and a 1-yard sneak by Jackson pushed the lead to 21-0 with just under four minutes left in the quarter. A 52-yard strike from Jackson to Desmond Robinson set up his short run.
“Our defense got us off to the fast start with the fumble and we were able to cash in,” Southeast coach Ryan Gottula said. “We saw early on they were putting a lot of guys in the box, and our wideouts were able to make some plays.”
West (4-6) gained a little momentum in the second quarter, scoring on a 5-yard pass from Aaron Seals to CJ Johnson and then forcing a Southeast punt.
But the Thunderbirds were whistled for roughing the punter and Southeast took advantage, scoring six plays later on a 2-yard run by Javier Faalii.
“We made some mistakes, and you can't do that against them,” West coach Craig Moraski said. “We handed them the ball and they capitalized.”
Leading 31-7 at the break, Southeast struck early in the third when Washington broke loose for a 36-yard touchdown run. He finished the day with 124 yards on 17 carries, with Jackson adding another 154 through the air.
A 1-yard plunge by Tyler Warner and an 80-yard strike from Seals to Malik Hluchoweckyj wrapped up the scoring.
Southeast looks to maintain its hopes of a repeat title against Omaha North, which defeated Lincoln Southwest 28-10 earlier in the day.
“They're very physical and they play a great schedule,” Gottula said of North. “I told the kids it's going to be a fun game.”
Lincoln Southeast (9-1) .................. 21 10 14 0—45
Bellevue West (4-6) .................. 0 7 7 0—14
LSE: Devin Washington 6 run (Lukas Gilliand kick)
LSE: Devonte Madlock 17 pass from Najee Jackson (Gilliand kick)
LSE: Jackson 1 run (Gilliand kick)
BW: Clester Johnson 5 pass from Aaron Seals (Mason Savine kick)
LSE: Javier Faalii 2 run (Gilliand kick)
LSE: Gilliand 31 FG
LSE: Washington 36 run (Gilliand kick)
LSE: Tyler Warner 1 run (Gilliand kick)
BW: Malik Hluchoweckyj 80 pass from Seals (Savine kick)