In the course of four snaps Thursday night, Luke Gifford provided all the offense Lincoln Southeast would need.
The Nebraska recruit scored on touchdown runs from 59 and 61 yards out on back-to-back possessions late in the first half, more than enough scoring in the ninth-ranked Knights' 24-3 win over No. 7 Millard South.
Gifford's jaunts, both down the Southeast sideline, showed off just what makes the senior a “special athlete,” according to Southeast coach Ryan Gottula.
“You can see he's a talented kid,” Gottula said. “He can make big plays. He threw the ball really well off of play action, made the huge plays with his feet running the ball.”
With his team trailing in the final five minutes of the second quarter, Gifford kept on a third-down option play to the right, broke a tackle about 15 yards into the run and finished it off by burning down the sideline for a 59-yard touchdown.
After a Millard South three-and-out, Gifford struck again.
On the third play of Southeast's ensuing drive he took a draw play and bounced it to the right before cruising to a 61-yard score. The two long runs came in a span of just over two minutes.
“Our blocking was great,” Gifford said. “I had big holes and I just had to read them. Those were two plays that we've really been working on in practice and that we ran pretty well against Millard West the first game, too. I knew those were definitely plays we could execute.”
Southeast added a field goal and touchdown on drives sandwiched around a Millard South turnover in the second half.
Logan Keitges' 24-yard kick late in the third pushed the Knight lead to two touchdowns before Kwame Robertson went in untouched from five yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter to put Southeast up three scores.
The Southeast defense did plenty, too. The unit forced four three-and-out drives in the first half and ended the game with four more stellar stands.
Of Millard South's final four possessions, three ended in turnovers (on a combined seven plays) and the other was a three-and-out.
“Defensively we were outstanding,” Gottula said. “I think offensively we were pretty good as well. But I thought it was a pretty complete game on both sides of the ball and special teams.”
Gifford finished with 125 yards on 11 carries. Southeast running back Hunter Johnson added 111 yards on 24 attempts behind a line that includes guard D.J. Foster, also a Nebraska recruit.
“Their two Division I kids are the real deal and we just made too many mistakes and you can't do that against a good football team,” Millard South coach Andy Means said. “We just kind of kept stopping ourselves and then obviously Gifford made the run, two runs. But that's what Division I kids do. You can't hold them down.”
The Patriots have lost two in a row after beating defending Class A champion Millard North in the season opener. The road doesn't get much easier for Means' bunch with a Thursday night showdown with top-ranked Millard West looming next week.
“We've got to lick our wounds and get ready to play,” Means said.
Lincoln Southeast (2-1) ............................ 0 14 3 7—24
At Millard South (1-2) ............................ 0 3 0 0— 3
MS: Scott Botkins 36 FG
LSE: Luke Gifford 59 run (Logan Keitges kick)
LSE: Gifford 61 run (Keitges kick)
LSE: Keitges 24 FG
LSE: Kwame Robertson 5 run (Keitges kick)
RUSHING: LSE, Hunter Johnson 24-111, Luke Gifford 11-125, Javier Fa'ali'l 4-33, Logan Beebe 1-minus 3, Brock Olson 1-1, Kwame Robertson 2-2, Alex Agostine 3-8; MS, Antony Cloyd 11-25, Ryan DeVries 8-42, Riley Hackbart 1-minus 6, Anthony Rosenthal 6-14.
PASSING: LSE, Gifford 8-11-0 87; MS, Cloyd 9-17-1 39.
RECEIVING: LSE, Beebe 2-3, Brady Blazek 4-64, Taylor Richards 1-13, Trey Beamon 1-7; MS, Logan Lichter 1-10, Cody Knapp 2-4, Hackbart 1-8, Christian Lalley 1-5, Kyle McMindes 1-4, Rosenthal 2-4, Adam Estergaard 1-4.
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Video: See highlights from the game: